ASA Government Relations 2020 Recap
December 23, 2020
As members of the ASA family made their way to Las Vegas, NV this year for SUBExcel 2020, few could have imagined the havoc COVID-19 was about to unleash on our country. Despite the disruption in normal industry activities, the ASA Government Relations Team wanted to briefly update you on our 2020 legislative successes as we enter the holiday season. Though this year has proven to be challenging, we offer thanks to our Government Affairs Committee (GAC) for their tireless efforts in advocating for our members and industry as we worked to address COVID-19 related issues along with our 2020 Legislative Priorities.
The ASA’s 2020 Legislative Priorities included:
- H.R. 2344: Change Orders
- S. 1434/H.R. 5644: Reverse Auction
- Federal Prisons Industry Legislative Language
- H.R. 6359: P3 Bonding requirements on Transportation Projects
- H.R. 5329: Freedom from Government Competition Act
- H.R. 5247: SUBS Act (Bid Listing)
- S. 4203: The American Infrastructure Bonds Act
- H.R. 6776: JOBS Credit Act
- Creation of the Congressional Construction Procurement Caucus
This year, the ASA was successful in securing the language of H.R. 2344, the Small Business Payment Performance Act, which addresses change orders in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAB). The ASA appreciates Rep. Golden (D-ME) for sponsoring our amendment. Though the final NDAB Conference Report excluded our amendment, the momentum is on our side to get this important legislation across the finish line in the new Congress! The ASA also made important strides in advancing H.R. 6359, which would revise the transportation infrastructure finance and innovation program to require the Department of Transportation to ensure that the design and construction of a project carried out under the program must have appropriate payment and performance security, regardless of whether the obligor is a state, local government, agency, or instrumentality of a state or local government, public authority, or private party. Thanks to our efforts, Rep. Lynch (D-MA), the prime sponsor of this legislation, secured 7 bipartisan cosponsors.
At the request of ASA Past President Kerrick Whisenant, the ASA is working with Reps. Brooks (R-AL) and Huizenga (R-MI), to address unfair competition issues in the federal prison industry by offering suggested legislative language for the elimination of mandatory sourcing for government contracts along with small business set-asides for federal prisons, and a report to Congress on the extent of which domestic markets Federal Prison Industries compete with domestic capacity in the private sector, including small business, and identify new markets overseas for Federal Prison Industries to begin to compete for in which there is no domestic capacity in the private sector, including small business. The ASA’s partnership with Rep. Brooks on this issue led to his visit of Claborn Manufacturing’s new, state of the art facility located in Tanner, AL. The tour was led by Kerrick, who is the President of Limestone Building Group, the constructor of the Industrial Park where the facility is located.
In the wake of COVID-19, the ASA was on the front lines working with a coalition of other construction associations to ensure our industry remained essential across the country. In consultation with the GAC, the ASA drafted a Gubernatorial Statement on keeping the construction industry an essential service as governor’s issued shutdown orders. The ASA ran a VoterVoice advocacy campaign and 1,399 members sent the Gubernatorial Statement to 38 governors across the country.
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked diligently to ensure members are aware of major federal regulations and relief opportunities through the creation of our COVID-19 webpage. In consultation with the Attorneys Council, the ASA also created the following resources: a COVID-19 Employer Guide, Attorneys Council Legal Guidance, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Provisions Guide, and a Small Business Administration Loan Program Summary. Through our membership to the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), ASA members also have access to a COVID-19 Exposure Prevention Preparedness, and Response Plan as well. As Congress considers new programs to address the pandemic along with the extension of federal programs to support small businesses and families impacted by the virus, the ASA Government Relations Team will provide timely analysis and resources to support our members.
Much of Congress’ focus in 2020 has been related to addressing COVID-19 and the ASA has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to support the construction industry during these difficult times. The ASA has signed onto the following letters related to COVID-19:
- A coalition letter to Congressional Leadership requesting their continued support for Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, expiring on September 30, 2020. This legislation provides a one-year extension for current surface transportation law with increased investment levels, along with $37 billion for state departments of transportation and $32 billion for public transit agencies.
- A letter in conjunction with the AGC, the International Franchise Association, and more in sending a letter to congressional leadership requesting the expansion of “second draw” Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses.
- A Small Business Legislative Council (SBLC) letter to Congressional Leadership conveying business-focused proposals to be included in a new round of COVID-19 relief.
- An SBLC letter supporting the Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would ensure that small businesses can deduct eligible expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from their taxes.
- A Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee leadership expressing concern for proposals to compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary for infectious diseases
- An SBLC letter to Congressional Leadership urging them to take action to modify the PPP loan program
- A coalition letter urging President Trump to support investments in infrastructure in the wake of COVID-19
- ASA spearheaded a letter signed by 15 organizations to the Attorney General recommending the Department of Justice temporarily suspend operations by the Federal Prison Industries.
- A CISC letter seeking OSHA guidance on the reportability of COVID-19 cases and recommending an approach to social distancing and face coverings in construction.
- An SLBC letter urging Congress to allocate additional funds to the PPP program and EIDL Program along with extending eligibility to 501©6 organizations
- A SFAA-NASBP letter to Congressional Leadership on the need for emergency action regarding the acceptance of electronic bonds.
- A CISC letter encouraging the issuance of exemptions for operations and maintenance of essential infrastructure during COVID-19.
The ongoing pandemic did not slow down ASA Government Relations Director Mike Oscar this year in visiting with chapters across the country. October 2020 was Chapter Engagement Month as Mike visited with seven Chapter’s in-person and virtually, to provide our members with a federal legislative, regulatory, and political update. Each of these Chapter visits provided a tremendous opportunity to brief members about ASA’s efforts to advance subcontracting issues nation-wide, while also highlighting individual Chapters. Mike’s visit to ASA of Greater Baton Rouge featured Rep. Graves (R-LA), who addressed chapter members on his legislative efforts in Congress dealing with COVID-19 and the construction industry. In 2020, Mike met with the following chapters:
- Carolinas (Charleston and Midland)
- Greater Baton Rouge
- Southwest Florida
- North Texas (Virtual)
- New Jersey (Virtual)
- Colorado (Virtual)
- Washington State (Virtual)
Our Attorneys’ Council has been (virtually) active throughout 2020! Through the course of three (one in person, two virtual) annual meetings this year, the Council has produced content and resources to fill four issue-specific webinars, one educational return to work Covid seminar, and the updating of several member resources, including a 2020 Subcontract Document Suite and revised Negotiating Tips and Retainage Law manuals. Our Contract Documents Task Force has reviewed and approved document suites covering Lean Design-Build Addendums, Performance Bonds and Prefab Contract documents. Finally, our Subcontractor Legal Defense Fund has continued its vital work on our behalf of our community with another year of appellate advocacy, covering cases dealing with prompt payment, lien and bond claims and Miller Act law throughout the country. The Fund needs your support more than ever, so please consider contributing by visiting www.sldf.net.
Our social media presence increased with 1,418 people liking the ASA Facebook page, an increase from 1,312 likes from September 2019 and 1,943 people followed the page up from 1,773 followers in September 2019. On Twitter, 3,248 followers, an increase from 2,307 in September of 2019.
Finally, the ASA looks forward to 2021, where we will build on the momentum of this year’s advocacy achievements and use our voice to continue to advance our legislative priorities.