March 2012: Government Affairs


Government Affairs

Legislative Update

What a great time in late-January at the annual MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry. I wanted to take the time to recap my presentation for those who were not able to attend, and give an outlook for another successful year in 2012. We won some great battles in 2011, with the help of many MCAA member companies, and the opportunity is there to build on those victories with your continued engagement.

After a fast start to the 112th Congress (2011), when Republicans took control of the House and moved to pass legislation that cut spending and messaged their priorities, things quickly ground to halt as our nation’s debt and deficit levels took center stage. Throughout 2011, there were many attempts by the House, Senate and White House to form bipartisan, bicameral commissions to draft and pass a comprehensive spending reduction and debt reduction package. While there was a lot of momentum during these commissions, including the most recent Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “Supercommittee,” every commission failed to come up with a workable plan.

While the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed a good number of their annual appropriations bills, only five of the 11 bills ultimately passed the full House, and the Senate only was able to pass the Fiscal year 2012 Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill. After the Supercommittee failed to construct a comprehensive plan by the statutorily dictated Nov. 23, 2011, deadline, the House and Senate quickly drafted and passed two “minibus” appropriations packages to ensure that the government was funded for FY2012, and there was not a government shutdown.

While not much major legislation was acted upon in either House of Congress, a number of MCAA priorities did pass Congress in the First Session of the 112th Congress.

We were extremely pleased to finally see the passage and enactment of H.R. 674, which repealed the 3% withholding provision in place since 2005 that would require federal-state-local governments to withhold 3% of payment due to government service providers. This provision affected payments for goods and services under government contracts as well as payments to any person for a service or product provided to a government entity.

We also were successful in having life-cycle costing (LCC) related to military construction projects and LCC as a part of OMB’s Circular A-94 (Guidelines and Discount Rates for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Federal Programs) included in the year-end minibus appropriations bills. This will set us up to continue to seek opportunities to add LLC language to Fiscal Year 2013 appropriation and authorization bills, specifically language directing the use of 50-year LCC.

And, while election year politics will start to play a bigger role in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Second Session of Congress will provide MCAA with opportunities to gain support of other main priorities, such as further reforms to the estate tax; policies that will jumpstart our economy and get the construction industry humming again, and co-sponsorship and passage of H.R. 3395; the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act, further reforms to the estate tax. This bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce to issue orders applicable to manufacturers of concrete masonry products (concrete) to provide for the establishment of a Concrete Masonry Products Board, which shall carry out a program of promotion, research and information, regarding concrete products.

We look forward to another successful year of working with the MCAA and its members.

Matt Keelen, founder and president of the government affairs firm The Keelen Group, is a widely known and highly regarded lobbyist and political strategist with more than 20 years of experience building relationships with key figures and a reputation for consistently delivering hard-earned victories. Contact him at 202-293-8120 or

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