BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on youtube February 27, 2015

"Dock Workers" by Jay Phagan is licensed under CC 2.0



Earlier today, the Business Council of Alabama hosted a conference call with Erin Gulick, Senior Vice President for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The call highlighted the fact that Ex-Im financing helps thousands of U.S. small businesses, including many in Alabama, access foreign markets and to export American and Alabama-made products.


A long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank would ensure continued growth and increased employment.


BCA President and CEO William J. Canary ended the teleconference with a call to action directed at the Alabama companies that use the Bank, either directly or indirectly, to encourage both U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, as well as their members of Congress, long-term reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.


"Our delegation must hear from you that a vote against the Ex-Im Bank is a vote against you, it is a vote against the jobs you provide, it is a vote against the United States, and it is a vote to send Alabama jobs overseas," Canary said.


On Wednesday, the BCA joined 650 other organizations and businesses from 41 states, in Washington, D.C., to urge lawmakers to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.


The bank is a crucial component of job retention in Alabama and across the nation. Without Congressional action the bank's operational charter would end June 30 and stop a foreign trade financing tool for thousands of businesses in the U.S. that compete with businesses in other nations with government-backed export-import banking.


The U.S. bank actually makes money for the Treasury while providing needed financing for foreign transactions. The Ex-Im Bank has returned about $7 billion to taxpayers in the last 20 years. And every state benefits from the bank, including Alabama.


The BCA is part of a nationwide coalition of organizations and businesses that are for the Export-Import Bank. "Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is a crucial ingredient in the toolbox of dozens of Alabama businesses who employ at least 5,000 men and women in the business of exporting and importing," Canary said.


The BCA's partners, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, helped organize the meetings. Legislation has been introduced that would extend the bank's charter for five years. It includes significant reforms to show its financial disclosures. Democrats are working on a separate reauthorization bill that they will introduce this week.



The Business Council of Alabama joined 42 of the 46 state Chambers of Commerce to urge Congress to make transportation infrastructure investment a top priority. A letter containing the signatures of 42 out of the 46 state chamber Presidents and CEOs and sent to congressional leaders is a powerful show of support from business.


"As a national business community, we urge you to make transportation infrastructure investment a top priority in the 114th Congress," says the letter signed by BCA President and CEO William J. Canary. The state leaders urge Congress to approve long-term transportation funding instead of short-term authorization as was accomplished in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act in 2012. Its authorization recently ended.


"One of America's greatest strengths is our ability to create diverse networks of transportation infrastructure to cheaply and efficiently move goods and services around the nation," the letter states.


Leaders of 42 state chambers - the voice of business in their respective states - believe that America will lose one of its great strengths as infrastructure deteriorates and our ability to inexpensively and efficiently move goods and services around the nation crumbles along with it. State leaders called on members of Congress to invest in transportation infrastructure.

Congress is discussing both the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund and reauthorization of the short-term surface transportation bill passed in 2012, according to the letter.



The Business Council of Alabama's 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda includes support for equitable funding for Medicare programs and opposition to efforts either through legislation or regulation that would hurt the federal funding formula for Medicare.


In that vein, the BCA joined dozens of other similar organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to urge Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to protect Medicare Advantage plans against further cuts.


The Obama Administration has cut MA by 14 percent in the last four years.


Along with the BCA, the USCC and the NAM, 32 different state chambers of commerce and manufacturer associations said that Medicare Advantage cuts during the upcoming rate-setting process would harm America's senior employees and retirees.


More than 16 million Medicare-eligible beneficiaries favor and rely on it for health care coverage. The plans are valuable coverage for employees and employers. Because beneficiaries prefer MA plans, enrollment is projected to grow to nearly 22 million seniors by 2020, a letter to Tavenner and signed by the BCA states.


Medicare Advantage plans provide stronger care coordination services and encourage better health outcomes for enrollees. Some of the superior health outcomes enjoyed by MA plan enrollees include shorter hospital stays, fewer hospital admissions, and 13 percent to 20 percent lower readmission rates. MA plan enrollees also enjoy innovative benefit and coverage services not available under FFS.

Employers and employees prefer MA plans because of the innovative integrated care provided and they appreciate that the plans are more affordable than coverage from original Medicare FFS, according to the letter. Data show that MA beneficiaries spend an average of $2,200 annually on health care coverage compared to $4,000 for supplemental coverage in Medicare FFS.


President Vetoes Job-Creating, Energy-Independence Pipeline Bill

POLITICO (Schor 2/24) "President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline bill Tuesday, rejecting Congress' attempt to take the project's fate out of his hands - and leaving the GOP on track for an override vote that will most likely fail. Obama's veto message was delivered within hours of the legislation arriving on his desk, the latest step in six years of pushing and pulling over a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has become a symbol in the debate over jobs versus the environment.


"Even before Obama whipped out his veto pen, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to hold an override vote, which the Republican leader's office said would occur no later than March 3. That gives the GOP a small window to search for the Democratic votes they still need in order to push the bill past Obama. About 20 more Democratic votes in the House and four in the Senate are required to enact the bill, judging from the votes the Keystone bill got when Congress passed it last month.


"The bill would have declared the pipeline approved, ending the administration's review of the project. Republicans, and some pro-fossil-fuel Democrats, argue that the 'proven' process has dragged on far too long for Keystone. 'I'm not shocked obviously'," Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. "'I'm disappointed because I think the president is missing an opportunity when it comes to jobs and North American energy independence'."



US Chamber of Commerce   National Association of Manufacturers
Sixth District
 U. S. Rep. Gary Palmer