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ACRA members took to Capitol Hill last week – in spirit, if not always in person – to advocate for the industry as part of ACRA’s 2021 Annual Conference in Alexandria, VA. Although many of the meetings were virtual due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, ACRA members met with nearly 50 House and Senate offices to educate them on CRM and urge them to support policies that benefit the industry.
In particular, ACRA members pressed their elected representatives to:
The timing of ACRA’s 2021 Hill Day could not have been more opportune as Congress is in the thick of drafting President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill and looking to pass a $1 billion infrastructure plan, which will lead to more federally backed projects – and greater demand for Section 106 reviews. ACRA members made clear that, while additional infrastructure investments were needed, without additional support for state and tribal historic preservation offices from the Historic Preservation Fund, it will be difficult to move the review process forward in a timely manner.
As ACRA members were engaging with their representatives, the House Natural Resources Committee was approving, on a party-line vote, $25.6 billion in additional funding for the Department of the Interior as part of the larger spending bill. The bill provides an additional $75 million for historic preservation activities at the National Park Service through 2031. In addition, the bill protects Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf from future oil and gas drilling, raises rates on oil and gas developers operating on public lands and waters, from 12.5% to 20% for onshore and offshore development, and reestablishes the federal government’s authority to hold lease sales for offshore wind development off the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and in the Gulf of Mexico. (You can see more details of the bill here.)
Democrats in both chambers of Congress hope to finalize their versions of the $3.5 trillion bill by the middle of September and bring them to a vote. However, passage is far from assured, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he would only support $1.5 trillion in spending, $2 trillion below what Democrats hope to include in the bill and much lower than what progressive Democrats are demanding. With bare majorities in both chambers of Congress, Democrats can’t afford to lose the support of either wing of their party.
As the virtual nature of ACRA’s Hill Day demonstrated, the pandemic is far from over. Last week, President Biden ramped up pressure to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 and the infectious Delta variant. On Thursday, Biden released an updated Covid-19 Action Plan, which, among other actions, requires all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
The proposed rules, which will be implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will require workers in companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, and will mandate that the businesses offer employees paid time off to get vaccinated. OSHA is expected to finalize details soon.
In addition, Biden announced that federal workers will need to be vaccinated, and took steps to require that federal government contractors and subcontractors be vaccinated, with more details to be announced Sept. 24. (The rules for contractors are not expected to cover grants, or contracts or contract-like instruments or agreements with tribes).
The plan was condemned by a number of Republican governors and policymakers, and it is likely the plan will face lawsuits, although numerous legal experts said the White House is on solid legal footing.
The ongoing pandemic reminds us that the economy remains fragile, which is why Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill are anxious to produce results on the infrastructure and social spending bills. By educating policymakers on the important role that the CRM industry plays in the economy, ACRA members who took part in Hill day last week are helping to make sure that the industry is at the table when lawmakers make important policy decisions. To learn more about how you can help advocate for the industry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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