Letter on H.R. 1105, the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill
February 25, 2009
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has significant concerns with several provisions included in H.R. 1105, the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill. These policy riders would have a damaging effect on the business community as a whole. Specifically, the Chamber opposes provisions related to:
- Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program with Mexico—While the transportation funding levels included in H.R. 1105 mark a continued commitment to maintaining and modernizing America's transportation systems, the provisions that would prevent the Department of Transportation from continuing the Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program with Mexico take the United States in the wrong direction and would likely prompt costly retaliation from Mexico. The Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program is a valuable effort that allows for carefully scrutinized trucks to operate across the U.S.-Mexico border on a reciprocal basis. Trucks move more than 70% of the value of U.S.-Mexico trade. Prior to the Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program, a shipment traveling between the two countries required at least three trucks and three drivers—a U.S. carrier, a Mexican carrier, and a middleman between the two. The pilot project lowers transportation costs and reduces congestion at the border.
- Endangered Species Rulemaking—H.R. 1105 contains a provision that would provide the Administration with authority to withdraw or reissue two important rules (known as "Section 7" and "special rule 4(d)") on endangered species. Withdrawing these rules would lay the groundwork for environmental activists to block infrastructure projects—even those contained in the recently-passed economic stimulus legislation—on the grounds that greenhouse gas emissions from those projects would impact certain threatened or endangered species or their habitats. It would also result in lengthy, onerous interagency consultations to determine a project's impact on certain species, effectively stalling many of the stimulus infrastructure projects intended to jump start the U.S. economy. The Chamber strongly supported the Sec. 7 rule and special rule 4(d), and urges that provisions related to these rulemakings be removed from H.R. 1105.
- Competitive Sourcing Moratorium—The Chamber opposes Section 737 of Division D on Financial Services and General Government portion of the bill which includes a government wide moratorium on new competitive sourcing competitions. The Chamber opposes this provision which would arbitrarily halt a successful program. Agencies across the government must have the flexibility to move forward with competitions in order to get the best value for the taxpayer, regardless of whether the government or private sector led team wins. It is the competition that results in the cost and efficiency improvements and serves as a critical management tool for agencies.
- Prohibition on Private Debt Collection Initiative—The Chamber also opposes Section 106 of Division D on Financial Services and General Government section of the bill which prohibits the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from contracting out debt collection activities. The Chamber opposes this section because it would limit the ability of the IRS to utilize private collection agencies (PCAs) and prohibit the continuation of the private debt collection initiative. The IRS and PCAs have been working in partnership to collect back taxes efficiently and cost effectively, while protecting taxpayer rights, privacy, and security.
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 the House and Senate to remove or modify these provisions from H.R. 1105.
R. Bruce Josten