To the ACEC Community,
When the House of Representatives reconvened yesterday after summer recess, it did so under the cloud of a looming – and more and more likely – government shutdown. The House and Senate remain far apart on funding levels for federal agencies and key programs. With Freedom Caucus Republicans taking a hard line on spending cuts and potential impeachment proceedings against President Biden, Congress has a difficult path to come to an agreement on either a spending plan or a continuing resolution by September 30 to head off a shutdown.
We only have 10 legislative days until that deadline. The Fiscal Responsibility Act – the bill to raise the debt limit passed earlier this year – established topline budget caps for defense and non-defense spending for FYs 2024 and 2025. However, in response to demands from a handful of House conservatives, GOP leaders decided to draft their spending bills at FY22 levels, which are $119 billion below the Senate. The bills approved by the House Appropriations Committee cut non-defense programs by roughly 30 percent, including some infrastructure programs. By contrast, Senate-committee passed bills maintain at least level funding for most transportation, water, and other infrastructure programs.
Most observers agree that a CR will be needed to buy time for further negotiations, but in this climate, even a stopgap measure to keep the lights on could be a tough fight. The Freedom Caucus has said that it would fight against even a short-term measure to fund the government that doesn’t address the situation at the border and include other policy concessions. Even if a CR is hammered out by the September 30 deadline, Congress will still only have a few months to reconcile the wildly divergent House and Senate appropriations bills.
ACEC certainly has a dog in this fight, in terms of protecting key infrastructure and other programs that support the markets our members engage in, and nobody wins when an impasse like this one results in a government shutdown. We need Congress working together constructively, because in addition to keeping critical federal programs and funding streams flowing, we have other equally critical priorities we need lawmakers to address, particularly on R&D amortization. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Wyden and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Smith have been talking over the summer about how to move a tax package forward that could carry an R&D fix. A compromise package will need to balance the child tax credit with business tax provisions, including a multi-year delay of the R&D amortization requirement. In the coming days, ACEC will be renewing a grassroots call to action to add momentum to these efforts. We’re on wartime footing on this issue, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to win this fight. Stay tuned.
Finally, just a note about Monday’s sad anniversary. It’s hard to believe that 9/11 was 22 years ago. In many ways, it feels like it just happened. You watch the archival coverage and every emotion from that terrible day comes back in a rush. The anger, the fear, the sadness – but also the love of our country and of each other. I felt immense pride in our industry as I watched the retrospectives on the rescue and recovery. In the hours and days after the towers collapsed, engineers were on the frontlines, assessing the stability of the debris and surrounding structures to ensure the safety of first responders. Engineers also played a vital role in designing and constructing the 9/11 memorial, creating a fitting tribute to the victims and a place for remembrance and reflection. The ashes of tragedy give birth to heroes, and our industry can be counted among their numbers. Thank you.
Linda Bauer Darr
President & CEO
American Council of Engineering Companies | ACEC