By Steve Rizer
Besides a Senate panel’s recent approval of the “MAP-21” reauthorization bill (ConstructionPro Week/CPW, May 23, 2014, “Recently Introduced MAP-21 Reauthorization Bill Gains Traction in Congress"), congressional lawmakers have taken several other new steps to push through proposals that would affect the U.S. construction industry.
Among the most recent developments are the following:
- Congress has approved an $8.2-billion Water Resources Reform and Development bill (H.R. 3080; H. Rpt. 113-449), introduced by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) last September. The legislation would reform and preserve the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and authorize priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- The House has passed Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-Pa.) Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development bill (H.R. 2641; H. Rpt. 113-363), which is intended to streamline the current permit approval process for energy, infrastructure, and other construction projects by setting hard deadlines, cracking down on prolonged lawsuits, and consolidating agency management of the approval process from start to finish. The bill would establish an 18-month maximum deadline for an environmental assessment and a 36-month maximum deadline for an environmental impact statement.
- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week approved Rep. Sam Graves’ (R-Mo.) Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs bill (H.R. 2750) would modify the procedure for awarding design and construction contracts for federal buildings and facilities to require the following: a contracting officer to provide a written justification to the head of an agency for requiring more than five finalists in the bidding process for such contracts and agency approval of such justification; and the use of the two-phase selection process (i.e., submission of qualifications and then the submission of price and technical proposals in response to a request for proposal) for contracts having a value of at least $750,000.
- The House Small Business Committee has endorsed Rep. Richard Hanna’s (R-N.Y.) Commensense Construction Contracting bill (H.R. 2751) would amend the Small Business Act to prohibit reverse auction methods (bidding from high to low) from being used in the case of any contract for the procurement of design and construction services if the contract is suitable for award to a small business, or if the award is made under U.S. Small Business Administration provisions concerning the federal award of procurement contracts or subcontracts to small businesses, HUBZone (historically underutilized business zone) small businesses, and small businesses owned and controlled by veterans, disabled veterans, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, or women.
- Division I, Title II of the Jumpstarting Opportunities with Bold Solutions bill (H.R. 4304) that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) recently introduced would repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that the locally prevailing wage rate be paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics working under federally financed or federally assisted contracts for construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works.
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes additional details about these bills and other construction-related legislation.