BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on youtube March 20, 2015



The call went out to the business community and the response was overwhelming asking Congress to kill the so-called "ambush election" rule that has been revived by the National Labor Relations Board even though the U.S. Supreme Court previously struck it down.


The Business Council of Alabama along with the National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged lawmakers to scrap the NLRB rule, which the House voted to do on Thursday, 232-186. It was a victory for business although President Obama said he will likely veto it. The Senate previously voted 53-46 to overturn the rule but the vote was 14 short of the number needed to override a veto. 


NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons released a statement following House passage of S.J. Res. 8 that disapproves the NLRB's wrong-headed election procedure: 


"Today, Congress protected American manufacturers and their employees by standing up to the NLRB's aggressive agenda seeking to overturn well-established labor policy for radical and politically driven ideology. The 'ambush elections' rule would shorten the time frame to hold a union election and rob employees of their ability to gather the facts needed to make an important and informed decision. As this resolution, which disapproves the rule, moves to the President's desk, it is his turn to use his pen and stand with our nation's job creators and American workers." 


Timmons said it is crucial to eliminate the rule before it does "serious and lasting harm." 


It takes on average about 38 days after a petition is filed with the NLRB for a union election to take place. Republicans say the new rule could shorten the process to as few as 11 days. In January, the U.S. Chamber, the NAM, the National Retail Federation, and other business groups filed a lawsuit against the NLRB over the rule. 


To read more about NAM action on the NLRB's "ambush elections" rule, click here.



A bipartisan plan to save the U.S. Export-Import Bank seeks to extend the bank's term until 2019, increase lending to small businesses, and overturn limits on coal-fired power plant projects, Reuters reports


Senators seek a balance among some Democrats who prefer a longer-term mandate and an expansion of the bank's activities, conservatives who want to end the export credit agency, and reform-minded Republicans. "We have been playing chicken with reauthorization for far too long, we need to get it done," said Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, one of four Democrats and four Republicans backing the bill. 


Republican Mark Kirk said the bill, introduced Thursday, brings together senators "who agree that American businesses, large and small, cannot unilaterally disarm against our global competitors." 


The bill may give supporters of Ex-Im, which supports U.S. exporters and the buyers of U.S. goods, leverage to extend the bank's mandate beyond its June 30 expiration date. It would cut the bank's lending cap to $135 billion, from $140 billion, and boost the share of small business support to 25 percent from 20 percent, Reuters reports. 


The bill would end "discrimination" based on industry and energy source such as coal-fired plants. 


U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a co-sponsor and Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia, said the bill would allow clean coal technologies to be exported. 


More than half the U.S. House supports Ex-Im bills that have been introduced but they face opposition from Republican Jeb Hensarling who chairs the House committee responsible for the bank and who is influential in determining which bills come up for a vote. The Senate bill includes reforms suggested in the House, including regular reviews of fraud controls and the appointment of a chief ethics officer. 


The Business Council of Alabama, a member of EX-Im Coalition that represents small and large manufacturers, urges members to contact Washington, D.C., lawmakers and insist on extension of the Ex-Im Bank's charter. Click here to contact members of Congress.



The National Association of Manufacturers supports the bipartisan Clean Air, Strong Economies Act, or CASE, which has been introduced in the Senate and the House.


"The bipartisan CASE Act would provide some much needed relief from what could be the most expensive regulation of all time, not only costing manufacturing productivity and GDP, but also jobs for American families," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.


Timmons said in a statement that the "commonsense legislation" would require U.S. counties to "comply with existing ozone regulations" before the Environmental Protection Agency could impose a new, stricter standard.


"We have made incredible progress over the past three decades in improving air quality, and that trend will continue if manufacturers are allowed to meet the existing requirements while continually striving to make the environment cleaner," Timmons said. "Manufacturers and their employees need this legislative solution so they can continue to fuel job growth and drive economic recovery nationwide."


Republican and Democratic governors say the proposed regulation would damage their economies.

The Business Council of Alabama is the exclusive representative in Alabama of the NAM, the largest manufacturing association in the United States.



U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the House budget must meet the nation's military needs. "To earn my support, a budget plan must sufficiently address sequestration and restore critical funding for national defense," she said in a release.


Alabama has military bases in Anniston, Daleville, Huntsville, and Montgomery, and they are vital not only to the areas they serve, the entire state's economy, and the nation's defense.


Roby said she voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011 partly because of cuts to the military, Yellowhammer reported. "We've softened the blow in small ways since then, but the full, devastating effect of sequestration is staring us square in the face for Fiscal Year 2016," Roby said.


Roby said that allowing sequestration to continue would be irresponsible, and could impact military readiness.


"No area of the federal budget is immune from 'belt-tightening,' and that certainly includes the military," Roby said. "However, any changes to our Armed Forces should reflect national priorities, not budgetary or political circumstances. The United States must first decide what is required to protect this country and its interests, and then budget accordingly."


BCA's Canary Comments in CQ Article on Ex-Im Bank

CQ News (Ackley 3/19) "In their fight to preserve the Export-Import Bank, business interests across the nation will target Senate Banking Chairman Richard C. Shelby, whose gavel puts him in the middle of an issue dividing his party. The pivotal players in the effort to sway the Alabama Republican won't be K Street suits, but business leaders from his state - many with ties to Boeing Co. and other companies with a stake in the outcome. If the bank is to survive, Congress is sure to overhaul its mission, possibly with new restrictions on lending to big corporations.


"But Alabama executives who like Ex-Im say they're convinced they can persuade Shelby to hear them out before the bank's charter lapses June 30. 'When Sen. Shelby has an issue before him, it's like making an appellate argument to him', said bank supporter William Canary, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, whose membership includes Boeing and Airbus. 'You have to be right on the facts, and you have to be right on the law'.

"Canary, whose group is allied with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, said allowing Ex-Im to lapse, as many conservatives on and off Capitol Hill want, will jeopardize thousands of jobs in Alabama."


Navy Secretary Voices Support for Mobile-built Warship

Mobile Press-Register (Finch 3/17) "Navy Secretary Ray Mabus urged a group of House lawmakers not to curtail the pace of production for the littoral combat ship at a hearing on the military's budget Tuesday. The House Committee on Armed Services met to discuss the funding request for the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, a key law used to bankroll the Pentagon.


"Budget constraints are expected to force tough decisions on which defense programs to fund. Mabus maintained his support for the littoral combat ship, one version of which is built by Austal USA in its shipyard in Mobile. The Navy plans to buy 52 of the vessels, splitting the order between Austal and shipbuilder Marinette Marine.


"Both shipyards have been building the littoral combat ship since 2006, when construction of the first vessel began under research funding. Lockheed Martin and later Austal were both awarded contracts to continue producing more of the ship. At the hearing, Mabus said the price tag of the littoral combat ship has been cut down from about $800 million per ship to now about $350 million for ships being produced today.

"U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, questioned Adm. Michelle Howard about the changes to the ship's design, which was announced in December 2014. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said at the time that the littoral combat ship would be outfitted with additional capabilities to increase its survivability and lethality."


Newest Alabama Member of Congress Pressures EPA Rule

Yellowhammer (Beshears 3/18) "Congressman Gary Palmer, in a Science, Space, and Technology committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, slammed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its controversial proposed ozone regulations, which to be implemented he said would require the use of technology that does not even exist.


"'The EPA has not been able to identify how the proposed standards will be met', he said. 'This sounds like 'shoot first, ask questions later' rule-making'. The EPA's proposed regulations would impose a limit of 65-70 parts per billion (ppb) for ozone, down from the current accepted level of 75 ppb. While that may seem like an arbitrary decrease, it is estimated that the more stringent standards would cost American businesses between $4 billion and $15 billion by 2025.


"Rep. Palmer challenged the necessity and feasibility of the proposal, pressing regulators to provide information on how the standards could be met, arguing that such technology is imaginary at this point. The $15 billion mentioned above would come in the form of increased prices or job losses.


"Coupled with the EPA's other proposed cuts on carbon emissions, these regulations could have a disastrous effect on the Alabama economy. A recent study found that the EPA's carbon emissions cuts could put in jeopardy the state's $1.3 billion a year coal industry, and could raise the price of electricity by 20%. The EPA has until October to decide whether or not to implement the rules."



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