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International Operating Engineer - Winter 2016

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Politics & Legislation

Politics & Legislation Back on Track After years of short-term extensions, Congress finally passes a multi-year transportation infrastructure package consideration of the bill in the House, there was an effort to repeal prevailing wages, but the amendment was rejected on a bipartisan basis. Fiftyfour Republicans joined with every Democrat to reject this amendment, 188-238. Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio (D-OR) also deserve a lot of credit for their stewardship of this legislation through the House of Representatives. Through a joint House/Senate conference committee, the two transportation bills were merged into the FAST Act. Reflecting the true bipartisan nature of infrastructure, the bill passed 359-65 in the House of Representatives and 83-16 in the Senate. The FAST Act creates a solid foundation of funding to build the nation’s highway, transit, and rail systems. In a separate provision, the bill even improves an innovative funding program for water projects that was passed in the last Congress – a program that possesses full prevailingwage coverage. in public transit, billion for Amtrak, and billion in safety programs. • In the first year of the bill, the highway program grows by 5% and the transit program grows by 8%. • To achieve those spending levels, Congress transferred billion new dollars into the highway program. • Project delivery and environmental review processes are streamlined, reducing the time it takes to bring a project to market. • Includes important policy changes to an important program of innovative financing, the Transportation Innovation and Infrastructure Financing Act (TIFIA). • Creates a robust, new national emphasis on freight movement. The legislative team was able to secure full Davis-Bacon coverage on all freight projects. • Targets .5 billion at projects of national and regional significance. • Strengthens the core highway program. • Leverages private resources for public transit projects. This new public-private partnership program requires the payment of Davis-Bacon prevailing wages to construction workers. ON DECEMBER 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” It is the first law enacted in over ten years that provides longterm funding certainty for surface transportation, meaning States and local governments can move forward with critical transportation projects, like new highways and transit lines, with the confidence that they will have stable federal funding over the long term. As General President Callahan said, “Enactment of the FAST Act represents a major opportunity for America, and for the thousands of members of the Operating Engineers who depend on these investments for their livelihoods. Frankly, the country needs more examples of this type of governance from Capitol Hill.” Representing an overall investment of 5 billion, the FAST Act largely maintains current program structures and funding shares between highways and transit. It is a down-payment for building a 21st century transportation system, with small spending increases for highway and transit systems over the next five years. Although far short of the amount needed to reduce congestion on our roads and meet the increasing demands on our [photo] WSDOT transportation systems, it represents a step forward after years of short-term extensions. The IUOE applauds the key committee leaders who drove this important bipartisan infrastructure debate. In the Senate, conservative Republican Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer (D- CA) first passed their transportation bill, the DRIVE Act, unanimously out of their committee. The House followed suit with their transportation bill, the Surface Transportation Reform and Reauthorization Act. During floor Most importantly, enactment of the FAST Act will keep thousands of Operating Engineers employed and create thousands of new job opportunities for the membership over the next five years. There is nothing more important to the job prospects of members of this union than this piece of federal legislation. It is far and away the biggest investment in infrastructure at the national level. Here are some of the broad details of the FAST Act: • Delivers five years of funding certainty to transportation planners, the construction industry, and its supply chain. • Invests 5 billion over the five years, including 5 billion in highways, billion [photo] WSDOT 12 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER WINTER 2016 13

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