MCAA Government Affairs Update for April 22, 2024: The Latest Developments Impacting Our Industry

April 22, 2024

As part of its ongoing commitment to protecting your livelihood and setting the stage for a bright future, MCAA has secured the services of Longbow Public Policy Group to advise our MCAA Government Affairs Committee (GAC). GAC Chair, Jim Gaffney will be passing along information relative to our industry on a regular basis.

On Friday, April 19, 2024 MCAA Lobbying Firm, Longbow Public Policy Group provided the following information:

Prompted by Iran’s attack on Israel last weekend, the House is working into the weekend to pass a $95 billion foreign aid package to provide aid to Israel, Ukraine, and allies in the Indo-Pacific region. To placate House conservatives opposed to the aid (particularly to Ukraine), Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) also included legislation to require Chinese-owned ByteDance to divest from social media app TikTok. A fifth bill that contained immigration and border security provisions from the House-passed H.R. 2 that has been universally opposed by Democrats was removed from the foreign aid package and will get a separate vote on suspension requiring two-thirds support. 

Earlier today, the House passed a rule providing debate for the foreign aid package and the TikTok ban by a large, bipartisan majority of 316-94, but more Democrats (165) provided “yes” votes on the rule than Republicans (151). This bipartisanship further angered conservative lawmakers in the House and raised the prospect that Speaker Johnson could face a motion to vacate seeking to remove him from the Speakership. While Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has not yet made her motion to vacate “privileged,” which would force a vote on it, it is gaining momentum as Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) announced they would cosponsor the motion. In the closely divided House, support for the motion from Greene, Massie, and Gosar could be enough to remove Johnson from the Speakership if Democrats join with disgruntled republicans, as they did when former Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) was removed last October. 

In the Senate this week, the democratic majority summarily dismissed the impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas by a 51-49 party-line vote, depriving Republicans of a trial they could use to attack the Administration’s immigration policies. The Senate is now busy trying to pass reauthorization of post-9/11 surveillance authorities referred to as FISA, and awaiting the House foreign aid package. The tax package that passed the House last month continues to remain stalled in the Senate.

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to depart town when they finish their pending business on foreign aid and FISA reauthorization.   

As detailed below, the MCAA policy team was very busy throughout the last two weeks on an array of legislative and regulatory matters.

MCAA Issues and Interests 

Misclassification

Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on DOL Budget with Acting Labor Sec. Su

On April 17th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a hearing with Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to discuss the Department of Labor’s fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget request. During the hearing, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) attacked the Wage and Hour Division’s MCAA-supported independent contractor rule, saying it will devastate small businesses and limit opportunities for individuals to work as independent contractors. Su countered that the independent contractor rule would not impact bona fide independent contractor relationships, adding that it simply enacts a test that aligns with decades of federal case law on whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. These attacks against the DOL Independent Contractor Rule come as MCAA continues lobbying against pending Congressional Review Act resolutions to rescind the regulation. 

Subcommittee Democrats, including Rep. Barbrara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), asked Acting Secretary Su what actions DOL is taking to ensure women and workers of color can access good jobs in in-demand occupations, including construction. Acting Secretary Su responded that DOL’s FY25 budget requests additional funding for investments in workforce training programs that help to create opportunities for women and minorities, including the DOL Office of Contract Compliance Programs’ “Mega Project Program,” which assists contractors and subcontractors on federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more in recruiting and hiring women and minorities. She also highlighted efforts to expand apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs to reach more workers. Su said DOL has significantly expanded apprenticeships by working with over 11,000 employers to create more programs in in-demand industries beyond construction. 

Finally, Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) asked Acting Secretary Su what DOL was doing to respond to an increase in child labor violations. Su noted that the FY25 budget request seeks an increase for the Wage and Hour Division to fund more investigators to address child labor violations, as well as other types of Wage & Hour violations, including wage theft and misclassification. 

House Subcommittee Hearing Focused on DOL Independent Contractor Rule

The Independent Contractor Rule faced more focused attacks at an April 11th House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing entitled, “Unlocking Opportunity: Allowing Independent Contractors to Access Benefits.” Subcommittee Chair Kevin Kiley (R-CA) attacked the DOL independent contractor rule and said that he is in favor of providing “portable benefits” to independent contractors to “build a bridge from traditional employment to the modern workforce without putting families at risk.” Full Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) expressed views aligned with MCAA about the need for the rule and the extent to which critics are misstating what it does. Rep. Kiley pledged to continue pressing his Congressional Review Act Resolution to rescind the Independent Contractor rulemaking that MCAA is lobbying against.  

House Passes CRA Resolution to Rescind NLRB Joint Employer Rule 

On April 10th, the Senate voted 50-48 to pass the House-passed H. J. Res. 98, a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the National Labor Relations Board’s joint employer final rule. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Angus King (I-ME) voted with Republicans in favor of the CRA resolution, while Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) voted with Democrats to oppose it. The resolution now heads to President Joe Biden, who has vowed to veto it.

Apprenticeship and Worker Training

DOL Apprenticeship

MCAA is continuing to try to persuade DOL regarding concerns raised about the recently-issued Apprenticeship Modernization Rule on which MCAA filed joint comments with the UA. The rule has drawn bipartisan opposition—albeit for a number of reasons. But members of both parties agree with MCAA that, as proposed, on balance the rule in its entirety does more harm than good. We are now trying to get key members of Congress to echo specific suggestions to improve the rule that were highlighted in our joint comment letter.

Passage of A Stronger Workforce for America Act 

On April 10th, the House passed A Stronger Workforce for America Act (H.R. 6655) by a vote of 378-26. The bill seeks to make changes to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, including: (1) dedicating 50% of the adult and dislocated worker funding toward upskilling workers through “individual training accounts” and on-the-job learning; (2) prioritizing employer-led initiatives that equip workers with the skill sets to fill jobs in critical industries and help currently employed workers to upskill to avoid displacement; (3) streamlining the “eligible training provider list” to ensure programs are aligned with the skill and hiring demands of employers and fully implementing the performance accountability system to hold states and local workforce boards accountable for achieving positive outcomes for program participants; (4) emphasizing work-based learning for youth, codifying a program to help individuals released from incarceration transition back to employment, and enhancing workforce education programs at community colleges that align with in-demand jobs; and (5) creating a demonstration authority for targeted state and local boards to reimagine their workforce systems and providing technical assistance to employers on implementing skills-based hiring practices. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

DOL Announces $6 Million in WANTO Grants to Retain Women in Registered Apprenticeships

On April 11th, Department of Labor (DOL) announced a $6 million funding opportunity through the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant program for up to 17 grants to attract and retain women in registered apprenticeship programs. The grants are intended to provide technical assistance to employers, labor unions, and joint labor-management organizations (among others), to encourage employment of women in construction and other industries where they are underrepresented by establishing, expanding, and/or enhancing pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship, or other skills training programs. Past grants have been used to provide resources for employers, unions, and workers to create an environment for women to succeed in construction and other nontraditional occupations, to establish support groups for women in these industries, and for other efforts to improve their retention. Grant proposals are due June 10, 2024 and awards will range between $350,000 and $750,000. Further details on the application process are available here. DOL notes that while women comprise nearly half of the U.S. labor force, they only account for about 14 percent of all registered apprenticeships. 

ICERES Study Finds Workers Participating in Jointly Sponsored Registered Apprenticeships Have Higher Wages Compared to Workers in Apprenticeships with No Union Participation

On April 15th, the Institute for Construction Economics Research (ICERES) published a study taking a comprehensive look at registered apprenticeships by combining information from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and 42 states from 2015 to 2021, including states that register their own programs that are not reflected in DOL data. The researchers found that construction training dominated the registered apprenticeship system, making up 65% of all registered apprenticeships in the U.S. DOL’s current data, which does not cover several states, only indicates that 34% of registered apprenticeships are in the construction trades. The study also confirms that workers participating in registered apprenticeships that are jointly administered by employers and unions are more likely to complete the program and tend to have higher wages compared to workers in apprenticeships that don’t have any union participation at all. But non-union programs have been growing in recent years and make up a majority of new apprentices in HVAC and electrical trades. The study can be purchased through ICERES here.

Davis-Bacon

Battle Continues Against CRA Resolution to Rescind DOL Davis-Bacon Rule

This congressional work period, MCAA continued its lobbying to defeat the Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the Department of Labor’s recent MCAA-supported Davis-Bacon final rule

WHD Releases Updated Prevailing Wage Resource Book 

On April 3rd, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced updates to the Prevailing Wage Resource Book (PWRB) in light of the implementation of the MCAA-supported Davis-Bacon final rule. In response to the final rule taking effect, the agency conducted a comprehensive review of the PWRB to simplify the language, restructure the format in a more intuitive manner, and provide necessary guidance and examples to help stakeholders understand the historic and positive changes the new regulations have made to the federal prevailing wage, survey, calculation, and enforcement processes. 

Pensions and Healthcare

Tax Bill Remains Stalled, Halting Progress on Pension Reform

As noted above, the quagmire that the House-passed tax bill is facing in the Senate has derailed the vehicle to which MCAA had hoped to attach legislation to allow two-pool withdrawal liability for construction industry multiemployer defined benefit pensions. While there is a renewed effort to get the tax package moving, Senator Crapo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, said this week that there has been no meaningful negotiations with Chairman Wyden. Wyden seems to be trying to find enough Republican support to jam the bill through the Senate without Crapo’s support. So far this has not worked. Wyden also wants to move it without any material changes to the key elements of the legislation, which would preclude MCAA amending it to add two-pool withdrawal liability. Some of the urgency of passing the package has waned since the tax filing deadline has passed, but lobbying continues around the measure.

Education and Workforce HELP Subcommittee Hearing on ERISA

On April 16th, the House Education and the Workforce Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “ERISA’s 50th Anniversary: The Path to Higher Quality, Lower Cost Health Care.” The hearing was called in response to the full Committee’s January 22, 2024, letter to the “Employee Health Benefits Community” requesting feedback on “ways to build upon and strengthen ERISA” that the witnesses submitted comments on. The Committee’s January letter specifically referenced several topics covered in the hearing, including the impact of the Supreme Court’s 2020 Rutledge decision that an Arkansas state law was not preempted by ERISA, the importance of ERISA preemption, and the desire to find ways to strengthen and clarify ERISA preemption. Also discussed at length was the possibility of extending fiduciary obligations to third party administrators and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and PBM reforms generally. The witnesses were: (1) Russell DuBose of Phifer, Inc. appearing on behalf of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions; (2) Mairin Mancino of the Peterson Center on Healthcare; (3) Karen Handorf of the ERISA Practice Group at the D.C. law firm Berger Montague; and (4) Scott Behrens of Lockton Companies, a privately held insurance brokerage firm.  

With respect to ERISA preemption and the Rutledge decision, there was agreement among Subcommittee Republicans and the witnesses that it was important to ensure strong federal preemption of state laws regulating multi-state health plans. It was also noted that additional Congressional action was needed in the wake of Rutledge, as states are looking to use that decision to address healthcare costs, the practices of PBMs, and the price of prescription drugs in ways that undermine ERISA preemption. Democrats did not spend too much time on preemption, instead focusing their statements and Q&A on the need to enact federal legislation to strengthen the “promise” of ERISA through PBM reforms, contain healthcare costs, and ensure parity in long-term disability insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders. The witnesses generally suggested that if preemption were weakened, employers would face a patchwork of state regulations that would jeopardize their ability to offer cost-effective, uniform coverage across state lines. Mr. Behrens called preemption ERISA’s “crowning achievement,” and noted that if ERISA’s preemption “guardrails” were to change, that would have a detrimental impact on plan design and costs for plan sponsors and participants.  

Noting that the greatest threat to ERISA comes from state efforts to regulate PBMs, Republican and Democratic Subcommittee members and witnesses highlighted the need for federal action on PBMs, such as the “Lower Cost, More Transparency Act” that passed the House last December. It was noted that strong federal PBM standards would stop permissible state regulation, such as the Arkansas law at issue in the Rutledge case. Witnesses encouraged Subcommittee members to consider federal legislation making the following PBM reforms: (1) banning “spread pricing” and requiring PBMs to pass all rebates on to plan sponsors; (2) ensuring that PBMs providing services to self-insured employers are subject to strong, uniform standards and are subject to strong oversight and accountability requirements; (3) providing that any entity exercising discretion over plan assets is a fiduciary to the plan and thus must always act in the best interests of the plan (not a contractor or third party); and (4) ensuring greater transparency on the part of PBMs, including providing plan sponsors with visibility into negotiated pricing information and disclosure of any direct or indirect remuneration received to ERISA preemption that could have a broader impact on employee benefits under ERISA.

Labor Standards – EEOC Final Rule Implementing Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Today, the Federal Register published the EEOC’s final rule and related interpretive guidance to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022. The EEOC has released a summary of the final rule and posted a series of FAQs about the final rule and accompanying guidance. The EEOC has also incorporated information about the PWFA regulations and guidance into its webpage on pregnancy discrimination, which evaluates issues women face related to pregnancy across the spectrum of laws the Commission enforces. The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations,” or changes at work—including temporary suspension of essential job functions—for a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the employer can establish that the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.

Among other things, this final rule includes: (1) examples of reasonable accommodations, including additional breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom, a stool to sit on while working, time off for healthcare appointments, temporary reassignment, temporary suspension of job duties, telework, or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage; (2) guidance on limitations and medical conditions for which employees may seek reasonable accommodation, including miscarriage or stillbirth, migraines, lactation, and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness; (3) guidance encouraging early and frequent communication between employers and workers to raise and resolve requests for reasonable accommodations in a timely manner; (4) guidance cautioning employers to be careful about requesting supporting documentation when an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and to only do so when it is “reasonable under the circumstances”; (5) explanation of factors the EEOC will consider in determining whether an employer has met its burden of establishing that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship; and (6) information on how employers may assert defenses or exemptions, including those based on religion, because the final rule requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to women who have had abortions or fertility issues under the law’s definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

CHIPS and Science Act – Commerce Issues Grants to Build Chip Facilities in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, and New York

This week, the U.S. Department of Commerce continued allocating the billions in grant money from the CHIPS and Science Act to incentivize semiconductor companies to build out manufacturing production capabilities in the U.S. and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the Biden Administration will allocate all of the funding from the bill by the end of the year.  

  • On April 8th, the Biden Administration awarded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) $6.6 billion in grants and as much as $5 billion in loans to help build chip factories and related facilities in Arizona. Under the preliminary agreement, TSMC will construct a third factory in Phoenix that is in addition to two factories on which it plans to begin construction in 2025 and 2028. In total, the package will support more than $65 billion in investments at the three plants by TSMC.
  • On April 15th, the Biden Administration announced a $6.4 billion agreement with Samsung to invest in semiconductor chip manufacturing in Texas. The investments in Austin, TX will expand an existing facility to support production of chip technologies used in the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries. The investments in Taylor, TX, will allow for construction of a comprehensive advanced manufacturing system that will allow Samsung to create leading-edge chips and for advanced packaging research and development. Samsung is expected to invest more than $40 billion in the region over the next several years.
  • On April 18th, the Biden Administration announced that it reached a tentative agreement with Micron Technology concerning details of $6.1 billion from the CHIPS and Science Act to build out a planned memory chip plant in Syracuse, New York, and to expand existing facilities in Boise, Idaho. In Syracuse, Micron is planning to build a giant manufacturing complex, pledging to start with a $20 billion project by the end of the decade and spend as much as $100 billion over the next two decades. In Boise, Micron plans to spend $15 billion to build a memory chip factory, the first new plant in the U.S. in 20 years.

Injury and Illness – OSHA Releases 2023 Injury and Illness Data 

On April 18th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released 2023 injury and illness data collected under the agency’s new Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses regulations published in July 2023. The 2023 injury and illness data includes specific information submitted by more than 375,000 establishments on OSHA Form 300A, “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.” It also includes individual injuries and illnesses for employers with 100 or more employees in high-hazard industries, like construction. In addition, OSHA has posted partial data from more than 850,000 OSHA Form 300, “Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses” and Form 301, “Injury and Illness Incident Report” records. More information about OSHA’s illness and injury recordkeeping and reporting requirements are available on OSHA’s website here

Hydrogen – IRS Supplemental Proposed Rule Regarding the Section 45V Clean Hydrogen Production Credit

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a supplemental proposed rule in connection with its December 26, 2023, proposed rule that would implement the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 45V clean hydrogen production credit as revised by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Under the December 26, 2023, proposed rule, the IRS provided a process for hydrogen production facilities to determine whether they meet a certain threshold of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would make them eligible for the section 45V credit. Under this process, facilities would use the most recent “Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation” (GREET) model developed by Argonne National Laboratory. However, if the most recent GREET model does not include either the feedstock used by the facility or the facility’s hydrogen production technology, the taxpayer may instead request a Provisional Emissions Rate (PER) from the Secretary of the Treasury. Petitions to the Secretary for PERs must include: (1) the emissions value obtained from the Department of Energy, which provides an analytical assessment of the GHG emissions from the facility’s hydrogen production process; (2) a copy of the taxpayer’s request to DOE; and (3) any information the taxpayer provided to DOE in connection with the emissions value request process. The supplemental proposed rule provides clarifying guidance for taxpayers regarding the process for filing requests for an emissions value from DOE that would then be used to file a petition with the Secretary of the Treasury for determination of a PER.

PFAS – EPA Releases Final Rule to Limit Presence of PFAS

On April 10th, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first-ever national rule to limit the presence in drinking water of highly toxic synthetic compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” With the release of the pre-publication text of the rule, the EPA also issued a general summary of the final rule and released FAQs on the final rule. EPA estimates that compliance with the rule will cost approximately $1.5 billion annually.

In conjunction with the release of the final rule text, EPA also announced two webinars: (1) on April 23, 2024 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET to provide a technical overview of the PFAS NPDWR for drinking water utilities and professionals (with registration available here); and (2) on April 30, 2024 from 2:00-3:30 PM ET to provide a technical overview of the PFAS NPDWR for small drinking water systems (with registration available here). 

EPA also posted a series of six facts sheets related to the following aspects of the final rule: (1) a fact sheet on “Understanding the Final PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation Hazard Index Maximum Contaminant Level”; (2) a fact sheet on “Benefits and Costs of Reducing PFAS in Drinking Water”; (3) a fact sheet on “Small and Rural Water Systems”; (4) a fact sheet on “PFAS NPDWR Monitoring and Reporting”; (5) a fact sheet on “Treatment Options for Removing PFAS in Drinking Water”; and (6) a fact sheet on “Comparison Between EPA’s Proposed and Final PFAS NPDWR”.

Other Interesting Things Since Our Last Report 

Thursday, April 18th

  • The Labor Department (DOL) issued a blog post that highlights five ways construction industry employers can create safer and better workplaces for all workers, especially women. They include: (1) providing properly fitting personal protective equipment; (2) guaranteeing safe and sanitary bathrooms; (3) ensuring protections for pregnant and post-partum workers; (4) preventing gender-based violence and harassment; and (5) promoting mental health. The blog post also explains that more than 390,000 women work in construction and extraction occupations, an 11% increase since 2017, but that despite this, gender and racial discrimination remain widespread and many women still face challenges navigating these male-dominated occupations, including threats to their safety. 

Wednesday, April 17th

  • President Biden announced plans to more than triple a key tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminum from 7.5% to 25%. This higher levy would be in addition to a separate 25% tariff on steel and a 10% duty on aluminum imposed under the Trump Administration. A senior Biden Administration official said the higher tariffs would only affect 0.6% of U.S. demand for steel. A White House fact sheet on the Administration’s actions is available here. The announcement comes as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it is initiating a section 301 trade investigation into China’s unfair practices in the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding industries, per a request from the IBEW, the Boilermakers, the United Steelworkers, IAM, and the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department.
  • The Energy Department (DOE) released its Transmission Interconnection Roadmap (Roadmap) that sets targets for interconnection improvement by 2030 and outlines solutions to speed up the interconnection of clean energy onto the nation’s transmission grid and to clear the existing backlog of solar, wind, and battery projects seeking to be built. DOE will also host a webinar on May 8, 2024, at 1pm (with registration here) to discuss the targets and solutions included in the Roadmap.
  • The Energy Department (DOE) announced final standards for commercial unitary air conditioners and heat pumps, circulator pumps, dishwashers, and miscellaneous refrigeration appliances (e.g., wine coolers) that are estimated to save consumers $33 billion on energy and water bills and reduce nearly 134 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the combined annual emissions of nearly 17 million homes.

Tuesday, April 16th

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a special Open Commission Meeting on April 23, 2024, at 2pm ET to vote on the final non-compete rule that would prevent most employers from using and enforcing non-compete clauses against workers. MCAA filed comments when this rule was proposed expressing concerns and seeking changes to it.
  • The Energy Department (DOE) announced the release of its latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, which demonstrates how commercially available advanced grid solutions—such as advanced conductors, dynamic line rating, and energy storage—can cost effectively increase the existing grid’s capacity to support upwards of 20–100 gigawatts of peak demand growth. DOE notes that the advanced technologies identified in the Liftoff report are receiving funding through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, a $10.5 billion grant program created by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to enhance grid flexibility and improve power system resilience.

Monday, April 15th

  • Incoming House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole announced the final slate of subcommittee chairs for the remainder of the 118th Congress: (1) Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) as Chair of Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies; (2) Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) as Chair of Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies; (3) Rep. John Carter (R-TX) as Chair of Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; (4) Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) as Chair of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies; (5) Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NC) as Chair of Homeland Security; (6) Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) as Chair of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; (7) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) as Chair of Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; (8) Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) as Chair of Financial Services and General Government; (9) Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) as Chair of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; (10) Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) as Chair of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; (11) Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) as Chair of Defense; and (12) Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) as Chair of Legislative Branch.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it denied a petition to remove stationary combustion turbines from the list of sources subject to regulation for emissions of air toxics, so that the turbines will continue to be required to comply with national limits on hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Stationary combustion turbines are typically located at industrial facilities, chemical plants, power plants, and compressor stations to create additional electricity or provide direct heating applications.
  • The Interior Department (DOI) announced a final rule from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) amending 20-year-old regulations by increasing financial assurance requirements for the offshore oil and gas industry operating on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to compensate for the cost of decommissioning oil and gas facilities on the OCS. BOEM estimates that the rule will require industry to provide $6.9 billion in new financial assurances. 

Thursday, April 11th

Wednesday, April 10th

  • The Department of Labor announced $65 million in Strengthening Community Colleges Training grants to 16 community colleges in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin to work with industry stakeholders to identify workforce needs and expand student career training for construction-related sectors, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, broadband, transportation, healthcare, and information technology.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) announced $23.8 million in funding from the President’s Inflation Reduction Act for 13 projects at federal buildings in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, South Dakota, Oregon, and Maryland under the “Good Neighbor Program” that will involve helping these federal buildings meet high- performance green building and low-embodied carbon standards.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it, in conjunction with the Justice Department, reached a settlement with Colonial Oil Industries Inc. requiring the company to pay a civil penalty of more than $2.8 million and spend an estimated $12.2 million to offset the detrimental human health and environmental impacts of its alleged failure to meet obligations under gas volatility standards and the Clean Air Act’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, under which refiners or importers of gasoline or diesel fuel are required to either blend renewable fuels into transportation fuel or purchase credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) to meet their renewable volume obligations. Between 2013 and 2019, Colonial failed to purchase and retire enough RINs.

Tuesday, April 9th

  • In a speech to caregivers and paid leave advocates in Washington, D.C., President Biden vowed to use a second presidential term to enact historic care laws—including the country’s first national paid family leave policy—as well as legislation to make child care more affordable and to invest in early education. The President said his goal is a national paid family and medical leave program administered by the Social Security Administration that will provide up to 12 weeks to: (1) care for a newborn; (2) heal from serious illness; (3) address circumstances arising from a loved one’s military deployment; (4) address domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or (5) grieve the death of a loved one without losing income. 
  • In an interview with Univision, President Biden signaled that his administration is considering plans to issue an executive order under the Immigration and Nationality Act that would restrict the ability of immigrants to claim asylum and to dramatically limit the number of migrants who can cross the southern border. Biden acknowledged that the legality of such an order would face legal challenges but seemed willing to take that risk observing that, “if I get shut down by the courts, I get shut down by the courts.”
  • The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force released its 2024 report detailing multi-agency efforts to respond to fraud in COVID-era federal relief programs, including charging more than 3,500 defendants and recovering $1.4 billion in CARES Act funds since 2021. Along with IRS Criminal Investigations, the Task Force has initiated 352 investigations involving more than $2.9 billion in potentially fraudulent Employee Retention Tax Credit claims. The Task Force also called on Congress to enact new legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for all COVID-19 fraud-related offenses and adequately resource anti-fraud efforts well into the future. Relatedly, the White House applauded forthcoming legislation led by Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), entitled the “Fraud Prevention and Recovery Act,” which would crack down on systemic pandemic fraud across government programs and help victims of identity theft.

Monday, April 8th

Around the Country 

Northeast 

  • On April 17th, The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mid-Atlantic Region 3—comprised of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—announced that registration is now open for its 3rd Annual Environmental Summit to be held virtually on May 16, 2024, from 10am to 4pm ET. The event includes workshops on PFAS, environmental justice, waterways, rural eastern shore communities climate solutions, and workforce diversity. Registration is available here
  • On April 16th, True Patriots PA, a newly established outside group with ties to California Democrats, is hitting Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) as not conservative enough, seeking to boost his GOP primary opponent Mark Houck in the race for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District. 
  • On April 9th, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said he plans to introduce a bill to ensure that the federal government pays for the entirety of the replacement of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, and expressed optimism about bipartisan support for the effort. Sen. Cardin’s statement followed an April 8th announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laying out an “ambitious” timeline to partially reopen the Fort McHenry Channel in Baltimore by the end of April and fully reopen it by the end of May. This announcement came as the Biden Transportation Department signed a revised grant agreement with Baltimore County, Maryland, to enable Tradepoint Atlantic, a facility in the county, to use a previously awarded $8.26 million DOT grant to accommodate more cargo at its terminal on Sparrows Point at the Port of Baltimore. The adjustments to the previously awarded Port Infrastructure Development Program grant will expedite paving at least 10 acres that will be used for additional cargo laydown area, doubling the prior 10,0000 autos per month capacity.
  • On April 9th, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced $156,495 in recovered wages and fringe benefits for 48 employees of Day C Soul Mechanical Inc., a commercial plumbing service based in Libertytown, Maryland, after a DOL Wage and Hour Division investigation determined the company denied full pay and fringe benefits to workers employed to work on a federally-funded affordable housing project in Clinton, Maryland. The air conditioning subcontractor Charles A. Klein & Sons Inc. of Sykesville, Maryland, which hired Day C Soul, paid the owed wages and benefits after Day C Soul refused to comply. 

West

  • On April 16th, the Interior Department (DOI) announced $29.7 million for drought planning projects for states in the Upper Colorado River Basin – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming – including projects that re-activate and install up to 600 stream gages (used to monitor and test bodies of water), expand weather station networks that monitor water resource management, and install new monitoring technology to track water diversion, soil moisture and snowpack.

Northwest 

Midwest 

  • On April 19th, former Rep. Peter Barca (D-WI) announced a run against incumbent Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. 
  • On April 15th, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it will host an in-person training session on May 6, 2024, from 8am to 12:30pm ET in Carmel, Indiana, that will provide a comprehensive overview on how to navigate the internal investigation process once an employee presents a claim of discrimination.

Southeast

  • On April 11th, the Biden Administration approved the construction of the $1.8 billion Sea Port Deepwater Oil Export Terminal off Freeport, Texas. The facility has an export capacity of 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. Environmentalists feel betrayed by the Maritime Administration’s approval of the deepwater port license for the project after a five-year federal review. 

Southwest

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