Efforts to Restore Fair and Open Competition in Government Contracting in the 112th Congress

0 January 3, 2013  Federal Construction

In the 112th Congress, the merit shop contracting community educated lawmakers about the impact of discriminatory project labor agreement (PLA) mandates and preferences, as well as promoted commonsense legislation restoring a level playing field in federal contracting.

The Road Ahead in the 112th Congress

The Government Neutrality in Contracting Act (H.R. 735/S.119), introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Sen. David Vitter (R. La.), prohibits federal agencies from requiring or prohibiting contractors to execute a PLA as a condition of winning a federal or federally assisted construction contract. It finished the 112th Congress with a record 181 cosponsors in the House, 32 cosponsors in the Senate, and broad support from a diverse coalition of construction industry associations and employer groups opposed to government-mandated PLAs.

In addition, the House voted five times—another important milestone—on the following amendments restricting government-mandated PLAs on various bills funding and authorizing federal construction projects:

  • Rep. Guinta amdt. to Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), (ABC supported, amdt. defeated via tie 210-210), 2/19/11.
  • Rep. Scalise amdt. to Homeland Security Approps. 2012 (H.R. 2017), (ABC supported, amdt. defeated 207-213), 6/2/11.
  • Rep. LaTourette amdt. to MilCon/VA Approps. 2012 (H.R. 2055),   (ABC opposed, amdt. passed 204-203), 6/13/11.
  • Rep. Bartlett amdt. to National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310) , (ABC supported, amdt. passed 211 to 209), 5/21/12. (Provision was removed in conference).
  • Rep. Grimm amdt. to MilCon/VA Approps. 2013 (H.R. 5854) (ABC opposed, amdt. passed 218-198), 5/31/12.
    • Congressional Research Service memo on anti-PLA mandate and preference amendments, proving the amendment language does not prohibit voluntary PLAs, but simply prohibits government-mandated PLAs and PLA preferences, 5/25/12.

These amendments, like H.R. 735/S. 119, attempted to restore government neutrality in contracting by prohibting government-mandated PLAs on federal and federally assisted construction projects authorized in these spending bills.

Key Hearings

In the 112th Congress, U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees held multiple hearings exploring government-mandated PLAs and the benefits of H.R. 735.

On June 3, 2011, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform Subcommittee held a hearing, “H.R. 735 and Project Labor Agreements: Restoring Competition and Neutrality to Government Construction Projects.”

  • Review the hearing video, transcripts, testimony and analysis here.

On March 16, 2011, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending Subcommittee held a hearing, “Regulatory Impediments to Job Creation: The Cost of Doing Business in the Construction Industry.”

  • Review the hearing video, transcripts, testimony and analysis here and here.

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