Letter on Davis-Bacon Act
March 9, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges you to support the Baker/King amendment that would strike provisions in H.R. 720, the "Water Quality Financing Act of 2007" applying the requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act to water quality facilities constructed under H.R. 720.
Application of the Davis-Bacon Act to construction under the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) was sunset as of the end of fiscal year 1994. Attempts by the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO to get the Clinton Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revive this requirement initially resulted in the EPA rejecting their arguments in October, 1998. Despite the EPA's earlier position, and lacking the legislative authority to do so, the Clinton EPA settled with the unions in June, 2000 and issued a "settlement agreement" that would have reinstated Davis-Bacon Act requirements for construction after July 1, 2001. This fundamentally flawed agreement would have been vulnerable to a legal challenge if it was
The Chamber regards this language (see Title III, section 302 (17)) as expanding the Davis-Bacon Act because it has not been applied to construction conducted under this act since October 1, 1994. It is also an expansion because these projects are ultimately built with state funds, and this will impose Davis-Bacon Act requirements on 19 states that do not have their own versions of the Davis-Bacon Act, thus undermining those states' desire to avoid the cost impact and other complications that are associated with this law.
Reinstating Davis-Bacon Act requirements for construction under this act would inflate the cost of construction through artificial wage rates and restrictive worker categories that do not allow employers the flexibility necessary to use their employees in the most efficient way possible. Reinstating Davis-Bacon would also reduce opportunities for minority contractors, women-owned contractors, and small businesses to participate in construction under this act.
To make sure that the country receives the most benefit from this legislation, the Chamber
strongly urges you to support the Baker/King amendment to strike the language in Title III reinstating the Davis-Bacon Act requirements for construction under this act. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten