Senate Letter Opposing Corzine/Lautenberg Amendment
May 10, 2005
TO MEMBERS OF THE U.S. SENATE: As the Senate continues debate on H.R. 3, the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes an amendment by Senators John Corzine (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) that attempts to change federal competitive highway and transit contracting rules.
For over 25 years, federal law has forbidden states from implementing "pay-to-play" provisions for state highway and transit construction contracts (23 USC § 112). Federal highway and transit contracts are awarded in an open-bid environment, and it is unnecessary to have an individual state attempt to change these federal contracting rules.
In November 2004, the state of New Jersey passed an executive order with language that included federal highway and transit contracting in the state's "pay-to-play" provisions. On January 21, 2005, the U.S. District Court for New Jersey ruled against the state and reaffirmed the federal statute, which led to New Jersey's final "pay-to-play" law continuing the long-standing exemption of "pay-to-play" for federal competitive highway and transit contracting.
Supporting the Corzine/Lautenberg amendment would adversely affect the ability of business leaders to support candidates, and thus, undermine the importance of allowing business executives and their employees the ability to legally participate in the political process, while other groups would not be impacted.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will consider using votes on or in relation to this issue for inclusion in our annual "How They Voted" ratings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million companies and organizations of every size, sector and region.