February 4, 2023

Washington Wire: Infrastructure Package Moving



Infrastructure Package Moving
The Senate will be taking the first votes on a bipartisan $579 billion infrastructure plan this week while negotiations continue on the separate $3.5 trillion tax and spending package. No final agreement or legislative language has been reached on either plan, but this initial vote on Wednesday, July 21, sets the wheels in motion. 
Insufficient and failing infrastructure restricts growth and reduces the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. America continues to rely on outdated roads, bridges, waterways, airports, railways, transit, and internet while our competitors around the globe make significant investments in their infrastructure, putting American businesses at a competitive disadvantage. 
One Voice is working in Washington to urging Congress to prevent major tax increases on manufacturing while fixing America’s infrastructure. Instead of investing overseas, One Voice is calling on Congress and the White House to invest our tax dollars here at home. Our members report outdated roads and bridges increase delivery times and cause inefficiencies around the country not faced by competitors in developed countries such as across Europe.
 To contact your members of Congress and ask that they pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that invests in America’s surface transportation without raising taxes on U.S. small businesses manufacturing in America, click here



Joint Employer Rule Clears Review
The U.S. Department of Labor is soon set to release a final rule to rescind the January 16, 2020, standard that shielded companies from shared liability for wage violations which the Trump Administration issued in its final days. The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs posted a notice on July 14, that it had concluded its review of the measure to rescind the joint employer rule, the last step before DOL can publish it.
The most significant parts of the Trump joint-employer standard were set aside by a federal judge last year, in a case now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Once published, DOL will revert back to its prior joint employer analysis under the FLSA, which considered a business a joint employer if the business had only a reserved contractual, but unexercised, right to control a worker.



One Voice Endorsed Section 127 Bills Introduced
Two bills to expand and modernize the employer-provided education assistance under Section 127 were recently introduced in the House of Representatives. The Upward Mobility Act (H.R. 4428) and the Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act (H.R. 4411) would increase the benefit amount allowed under Section 127 and expand the benefit to include funds used for education-related tools and technology. 
The tax code currently allows an employer to pay up to $5,250 for educational programs without it counting against the employee’s taxable income, an amount established and not increased since 1986. While both bills would increase the tax exclusion from $5,250 to $12,000, which would adjust the exclusion to account for inflation over the last 35 years, the adjustment would only be a temporary emergency expansion for 2021-2022 under the Upskilling and Retraining Assistance Act to assist employers as they recover from the pandemic. The Upward Mobility Act would enact a permanent increase to $12,000 as well as indexing the exclusion to inflation moving forward. 
One Voice, which has supported similar measures in the past, has endorsed both bills and will continue to work to ensure that Congress passes legislation to help meet the current and future workforce needs of manufacturers.



Auto Tariff Report Released
The U.S. Commerce Department, on July 6, finally released the report advising President Donald Trump on proposed tariffs on imports of automobiles and car parts. The Commerce study focused on whether to impose tariffs on auto imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which allows for duties without a vote by Congress if imports are deemed a national-security threat. It was the same law the Trump administration used to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. 
Commerce produced the report for the White House in February 2019, but the findings were never publicly released and the agency was sued for blocking the information. Congress also sought to force Commerce to release the report, however, the Department of Justice in January 2020 said the White House could use executive privilege to decline its release.
The report found that the impact of excessive imports, “and the serious effects resulting from the consequent displacement of production in the U.S., is causing a weakening of our internal economy that may impair the national security.” In the report, former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recommended that Trump consider imposing tariffs up to 25 or 35 percent.