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  • Wed, April 06, 2022 5:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In advance of a “bill markup” by the House Education and Labor Committee to reauthorize the “Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act” (WIOA); members of the Opportunity America Coalition have weighed in. The proposed legislation is welcomed by the Coalition to the extent that it will increase outlays on important aspects of workforce training and upskilling with proposed grants for industry and sector partnerships, changes to state eligible training provider lists, supports incumbent worker training, and codifies grants for community college education on these matters.

    However, the Coalition’s support is tempered by concerns regarding: (a) diluting employer input at the state/local workforce board level, (b) provisions seeming to add barriers to companies that seek funding for on-the-job training, and (c) that the draft is not a bi-partisan effort that balances all the interests while creating a more practical vehicle that recognizes market-driven needs and aligns it with changing job requirements.

    The Coalition has vowed to press for a bi-partisan approach to the bill going forward, that addresses the needs across the spectrum while revamping a future workforce system.

    [For details, see the Opportunity America Coalition letter].

  • Thu, January 20, 2022 9:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With passage last year of the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill; i.e., The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” a number of titles or provisions were included that may not have been fully discussed and highlighted.

    SEE HERE for a PowerPoint presentation that Recaps the major elements of the bill.

    SEE the Factsheet on Grant Opportunities in Infrastructure Bill


  • Thu, December 09, 2021 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the dust settles and more details emerge from passage of the massive $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill (“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”), it is clear that both good and not so good elements were included in the final package.  While most of the headlines centered around the bitter partisan fight (which turned out to be a bipartisan vote), and the total dollar amount – with some concerns regarding the percentage being spent on “traditional” or typically defined as infrastructure (particularly transportation related), there were other policy and spending elements in the bill that will have important impacts.  The Reason Foundation has reported on a number of these elements.

    Positive Aspects:
    (1) The total $1.2 trillion includes all the funds authorized for five years of the federal surface transportation program.  That means, the net new monies authorized amounts to approximately $550 billion (or about half the total).

    (2) Federal-Aid Highway Program’s annual authorizations are approximately 26% above the FAST Act levels, when both new and old money is counted.

    (3) Transit dollars are up a larger 38% as well.

    (4) The new law also includes a $15 Billion increase to the “cap” on tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs) that are often used in conjunction with P-3 projects.

    (5) TIFIA loans have also been continued, although at a slightly lower funded level.

    (6) The law as passed also includes a policy which avoids mandating Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions for projects issuing PABs.

    (7) A new Congestion Relief Program is funded, offering grants to urban areas seeking to implement integrated congestion management systems.

    (8) The Act also codifies the important regulatory streamlining approach of “One Federal Decision” that was implemented in the Trump term.

    Less than Positive Aspects:
    (1) The large amounts of federal funds (cash) included that will undercut the use of long-term financing for major projects.

    (2) Impacts on the bond markets from federal cash being used to directly pay for projects.

    (3) The likely off-loading of state and local jurisdictions committing their funds to important infrastructure projects – by instead relying on federal dollars to cover the need.

    (4) Similarly, toll-financed P-3 bridge replacements may be shifted to the new federal “Discretionary Bridge Program” – which is only short term and not meant to finance ongoing maintenance.

    (5) The bill’s silence as to the future needs of the most important transportation asset, i.e. – the Interstate Highway System (other than the select 10 bridge projects).

    (6) Unprecedented large “discretionary” spending program that shifts authority and priorities to the federal bureaucracy and away from the state and local officials.

    (7) The Infrastructure bill paves the way for expanded use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) – which generally include other provisions that align with labor interests, including: that union hiring halls refer all workers to the project; that workers referred to perform project work pay union dues for their time on the project; and that contractors contribute to union trust funds for workers’ retirement and health care.

    (8) Finally, with this large amount of money being authorized, combined with a number of union labor mandates, it is likely to drive-up the expenses of everything, especially in record-high inflationary times for construction.

  • Wed, November 10, 2021 4:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the face spending that is already fueling a 31-year high inflation rate, major supply chain disruptions, and record national labor shortages, the potential taxes being proposed by the Biden Administration and his allies in Congress in the Build Back Better bill will touch every American in some form or another while jeopardizing continued economic recovery from the pandemic and shutdowns. The supposedly $1.75 Trillion price tag for the reconciliation spending binge of leftist pet programs and/or agendas – has already been challenged as being too low. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a nonpartisan organization with an emphasis on federal finances, has said the Democrats bill will actually cost around $2.4 trillion.  [In addition, the Wharton School of Business has estimated the figure to be nearly $4.0 Trillion, with American taxpayers incurring $1.56 Trillion in new taxes; a far cry from the President’s claim of it costing ZERO!]. Either figure could be a deal breaker for the so-called moderate House Democrats that accepted a compromise with Speaker Pelosi and the leftist wing, to hold a vote . . . if the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came back with a score comparable to the advertised $1.75 Trillion.

    The CBO is a nonpartisan body tasked with scoring an estimate of the true cost of legislation and its impacts on the economy.  It is this “scoring” that has not yet been produced that moderates are seeking before they vote on the reconciliation package.  Reportedly, the Director of CBO explained the delay in processing saying: “The analysis of the bill’s many provisions is complicated.” Although he promised that “[the] CBO will provide a cost estimate for the entire bill as soon as practicable.”

    As for ways to pay for this massive spending proposal, the Build Back Better bill is loaded with increases, new approaches, and slight of hand to cover the debt-busting potential. The accompanying chart/table highlight the more impactful possibilities buried in the 2,000 page plus legislative proposal.

    SEE Summary of Tax Proposals / CIRT Advocacy Center.


  • Sat, November 06, 2021 7:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It went deep into the night as the Democrat majority in the House squabbled over rules and voting procedures until finally passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill after a multi-hour standoff between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and more radical left-wing members of her party who vowed to oppose it without voting on President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion reconciliation socialist spending package in tandem.  The more traditional infrastructure bill, pegged at $1.2 trillion dollars over a 10-year period for roads, bridges, ports, waterways, rural broadband access and more, passed on a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans and 6 Democrats breaking party lines to vote for and against the bill, respectively.

    The last minute deal was hammered out after a group of more “moderate” Democrat House members consented in writing that they would allow a vote on the massive reconciliation spending package -- if the CBO score was aligned with White House estimates.  Of course, that will leave open for interpretation whether if and when the CBO numbers do match the White House figures.  Even if they do, Democrat Senators have already signaled that many of the favorite left-wing spend and tax provisions in their version of the package are non-starters or likely to be stripped from the Senate version. 

    BUT, the House vote clears the final hurdle for the more “traditional” $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to reach the President’s desk.

  • Wed, October 13, 2021 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CIRT joined a large cross-section of organizations delivering a message to Congressional leadership that we strongly oppose the proposed new tax information reporting regime as described by the Department of Treasury, that would impact almost every American who has an account at a financial institution. The proposal, buried in the monstrous $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, will require providers of financial services to track and submit to the IRS information on the inflows and outflows of every account above a de minimis threshold of $600 during the year.

    Moreover, the organizations noted that “
    The privacy concerns for Americans are real and should not be taken lightly. The IRS is not impervious to being hacked and has suffered massive data breaches in the recent past where the personal information of taxpayers was stolen.”  And also, that tinkering around the edges to “soften” the new mandates and requirements to certain types of transactions, or groups of banking accounts, etc. was still an outrageous invasion of privacy and government overreach.

    SEE the Coalition Letter and Fact Sheet for further details.

  • Fri, September 17, 2021 3:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CIRT joined over 100 other organizations to voice strong opposition to a proposal to sweep-up banking information under the guise of addressing what is euphemistically called “tax gap” concerns (namely non-compliance). The provision is tucked into the massive Build Back Better Act, that seeks to require financial institutions to report to the IRS on transactions in business and personal accounts.

    The group blasted the idea as: “Indiscriminate, blanket data collection [that] would amount to a troubling effort to profile American taxpayers based on account characteristics without grounds for suspicion of tax evasion. Such profiling is inappropriate in all law enforcement contexts.”  In other words, treat everyone like criminals, trampling rights and freedoms, in the search for evidence of a true wrong doer.

    For more details SEE Joint Letter to Congress Opposing Consumer Financial Account Reporting.


  • Tue, August 10, 2021 10:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today, the U.S. Senate moved a large piece of legislation related to infrastructure needs forward with a bipartisan vote on a $1.2 Trillion bill (with 19 Republicans joining all the Democrats in a 69-30 vote).  The bill became controversial for its non-infrastructure spending and policy changes on such diverse matters as cryptocurrency and tax matters. The deal includes roughly $550 bill in new funding over five years, with estimates of only 25 to maybe 40 percent being earmarked for what most would define as traditional or “hard” infrastructure projects such as: roads, bridges, broadband, water and rail. [The 2,700-page-long bill invests $110 billion toward roads, bridges, and major projects; provides some $66 billion to passenger and freight rail; $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid; $65 billion to expand broadband internet lines; $55 billion for water pipes including replacing lead pipes; and more].

    Most of the controversy and opposition to the final package had virtually nothing to do with the “hard” infrastructure proposed spending (some even now contending that investments in such projects will pay for themselves over time, even if the initial expenditures will add $256 billion to the deficit as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  Likewise, the process of not only linking this bill to the much more controversial and extremely partisan Democrat supported $3.5 trillion plan using budget reconciliation (which means by-passing Senate filibuster rules), but also having the House accept the Senate infrastructure deal without further changes, will now be the center of attention.  SEE this overview on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

  • Thu, July 29, 2021 1:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 67-32 to break a filibuster and allow debate to begin on a proposed “bi-partisan” infrastructure package endorsed by members of both parties.  President Biden also supported the agreement earlier (but had to walk-back some comments that seemed to undermine the effort, leaving the White House’s exact position a bit uncertain), which comes in around $1.2 trillion and includes $550 billion in new spending over eight years.  Moreover, the Democrats are also angling to ram through a $3.5 trillion bill using the controversial budget reconciliation process, which saves them from needing any Republican votes in the upper chamber (although there is still some issue as to whether the Democrats can hold all 50 of their Senate votes in the face of the massive spending amount).

    Questions remain on the proposed package’s particulars, and critics say funding for infrastructure should only come from repurposing unspent money from previous COVID-19 relief bills.  Amendments to this effect, and on other important details are still to play out on the Senate floor as the package moves forward.  Those offering these changes have a simple message: “Congress can’t keep spending trillions of dollars we don’t have.”

    [See, Slide Presentation/Summary of progress along the way to develop package and the latest step to bring a bill to the floor].

  • Thu, July 01, 2021 1:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today, the House of Representatives on a 221-201 vote passed the $715 billion package to address surface transportation and water infrastructure projects. Led by House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the package is meant to shape aspects of the ongoing infrastructure debate with Senate and White House. CIRT reported earlier on this piece of legislation, known as the “INVEST in America Act” (a summary of the key provisions and spending amounts is included as an attachment to the original CIRT story dated 06/28/2021 for more details).

    However, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): “This bill is designed to be a part of the President’s jobs bill. It is not a substitute for the jobs bill.” 

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