The Senate at press time was nearing a vote on extensions and expansions of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act tax and benefit provisions. Advocates won a procedural vote on Nov. 2, moving the bill closer to final action. The measure would extend ARRA’s $8,000 first-time homebuyers’ tax credit to contracts through April 30. It also would give a $6,500 credit to those who owned and lived in their present house for five years and seek to buy a new home. The bill would widen ARRA’s small-business five-year operating-loss carry-back to cover all companies. It extends unemployment benefits for 14 weeks,
A new federal scorecard says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has preserved or created 640,329 jobs so far, including more than 80,000 in construction. An Oct. 30 report from the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board says those jobs were generated by $160 billion of the ARRA funds and tax breaks made available through Sept. 30. An additional $179 billion in ARRA aid isn’t covered by the board’s report. The White House says when that additional amount is factored in, the jobs impact rises to more than one million. House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) continues to contend that ARRA
The Office of Management and Budget is directing federal agencies to streamline procurement, including a 7% cut in spending on contracts by the end of fiscal 2011. OMB also wants agencies to reduce their non-competitive and high-risk contracts by 10% by 2010. OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients told a Senate panel on Oct. 28 that the changes could save $40 billion annually.
After enduring 12 extensions before the Safe Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—a Legacy for Users became law in 2005, state departments of transportation and construction companies see the troublesome cycle repeating. SAFETEA-LU lapsed on Sept. 30, and they’re already on stopgap No. 2. A newly enacted spending package authorizes highway and transit programs through Dec. 18. Beyond that, another extension, probably measured in months, not years, is virtually assured. The spending measure, which President Obama signed on Oct. 30, also provides full fiscal 2010 appropriations for Interior Dept. and Environmental Protection Agency programs. In addition, it extends funding through
Fast-moving environmental, political and workplace trends are boosting civil engineering to a critical new role, even if its practitioners and academics aren’t totally ready, according to speakers and attendees at the annual meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Oct. 29-31 meeting in Kansas City drew nearly 1,000 attendees, including a large contingent of students. Photo: David Hathcox / Asceput From left, CEOs Rodman and Graves and educator Nelson say civils must “stand up.” “The world needs the profession to deal with issues that extend beyond civil engineering,” said Priscilla Nelson, a professor and former provost at
A Senate committee has approved President Obama’s three nominees to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. The next step would be consideration by the full Senate, but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he has strong reservations about one of Obama’s choices, Democrat Craig Becker, a union attorney. McCain says he will put a “hold” on Becker’s nomination, blocking a floor vote. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Oct. 20 voted 15-8 along party lines to approve the nomination of Becker, currently associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. By a voice vote,
House and Senate negotiators stripped language from a $43-billion homeland security spending bill that would have required more fencing to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate version of the bill had an amendment from Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to require 600 more miles of double-layer border fence to be built by Dec. 31, 2010. To date, 34.3 miles of double-layer fencing have been put in place. In 2008 Congress mandated that 700 miles of fencing be built.
As House Democrats mull legislative options to try to turn around the unemployment rate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn’t intend to produce a big, new stimulus measure. Instead, she is taking a multiple-bill approach. Additional appropriations are among the possibilities, but whether infrastructure spending will be in the mix still is not clear. Officials in the construction industry, whose unemployment rate is much worse than the overall national figure, are hoping for action soon. Photo: AP/Wideworld Searching Pelosi convened four-hour meeting on job-creating ideas, with economists such as Sinai, center, and Boushey, right. Pelosi convened a nearly four-hour meeting on
The Environmental Protection Agency is ramping up its efforts to enforce the Clean Water Act and to hold violators more accountable. Environmental groups and many Democratic lawmakers applaud the plan, noting that CWA enforcement eased during the Bush administration. But industry groups caution that simply increasing the number of citations and using a “one-size-fits-all” approach could prove counterproductive and might not lead to the common goal of better water quality. EPA aims at big polluters. Related Links: EPA Action Plan At an Oct. 15 hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson outlined an “action plan”
A $33.5-billion fiscal 2010 spending bill for federal energy and water programs is on its way to enactment. Final congressional approval came on Oct. 15, with the Senate’s approval. The measure includes $5.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program, up $43 million from 2009’s level, excluding American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The Corps’ total includes $2 billion for its construction account, down 5% from this year. The bill also provides $27.1 billion for the Dept. of Energy, a $318-million boost from 2009. DOE’s 2010 allotment includes $5.6 billion for defense environmental restoration, a $15-million cut