2014 – A Look Back on Washington, D.C.
What an eventful year! What started as an election year that looked to contain very little hope of getting much of anything done in Congress, turned out to be an incredible year for the branding and influence of the MCAA.
The MCAA went into the year with two major initiatives: Block or drastically change the OSHA rule related to workplace exposure to silica and pass H.R. 1563/S.429, the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act. At the beginning of the year, it appeared that we were stuck behind a brick wall on both fronts, and the prospects for success on either front seemed dim.
Fast forward to January 2015, and the MCAA’s voice in Washington, D.C., is as strong as ever. We sit well positioned to influence not only these two issues, but many others as a Republican Congress looks set to advance major initiatives such as tax reform, immigration reform and healthcare reform. I wanted to take this opportunity to recap for you how we got to this point, and reiterate the importance of continuing to make the MCAA’s voice heard through your participation in our efforts in Washington, D.C.
Our year started off with the MCAA fully engaged in blocking OSHA’s rule to further reduce the permissible amount of workers’ exposure to crystalline silica. As a major part of the MCAA’s game plan to combat this misguided and infeasible rule, we joined together with 25 other associations who represent almost every facet of the construction industry to create the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) and show OSHA the drastic impact that this rule would have on the construction industry.
We spent the year formulating strategies, submitting official comments, participating in the public hearings, and meeting with Members of Congress to educate everyone on this rule and its potential impact. Throughout this process, the MCAA, our coalition partners, and the CISC have provided OSHA with a detailed, data-driven story on why this rule is unwarranted, technologically infeasible, economically infeasible, and a massive job destroyer.
The responses we received so far from OSHA and other people who have participated in this process were extremely positive. We are encouraged by the credibility that we built up through our data driven arguments, our willingness to participate in every step of the process, and our willingness to take as many questions as were presented to the MCAA and the CISC by OSHA and members of the public.
While this rule and all public comments are currently being reviewed by OSHA, the MCAA and our coalition partners continue to educate Members of Congress on this misguided rule and will look for ways to legislatively block this rule when the 114th Congress gets off the ground this month. The credibility we have built up on this issue will go a long way toward having a strong voice and presence in these conversations.
Not only did we build our credibility through the silica rule, the MCAA also played a major role in the impressive ground game in support of H.R. 1563 and S. 429. At the beginning of 2014, H.R. 1563 had a total of 115 cosponsors and S. 429 had a total of 17 bipartisan cosponsors. We stood with our backs against the wall as prospects of passage seemed slim.
After having partnered with the National Concrete Masonry Association to push this bill to the forefront of Congress, we ended 2014 with the following major accomplishments: 268 bipartisan cosponsors (62% of the House of Representatives) of H.R. 1563, 23 bipartisan cosponsors of S. 429, passage of S. 429 out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee by voice vote, and a commitment from the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that our bill would move through the House of Representatives in early-2015. Now is the time to re-double our efforts, stay committed, and get fired up for major accomplishments in 2015. As stated above, Congress is poised to tackle major issues such as tax reform, immigration reform, and healthcare reform, and we need your help to keep our voice strong.
Through our efforts with the 2014 Legislative Fly-In and our Members’ commitment to making phone calls and meeting with their Members of Congress, MCAA is known, respected and Congress wants to help our industry. While 2014 was a great year, let’s all make the commitment to keep the momentum going and make 2015 even better!
Stephen A. Borg is VP of The Keelen Group, www.keelengroup.com.