Capitol Hill

Gridlock

I am often asked what effect the change of congressional majority from Republicans to Democrats has had on NRCA's agenda, and my answer is, "Not much yet." Democrats are finding it is difficult to muster the 218 votes needed to pass legislation in the House, more difficult to generate the 60 votes needed in the Senate and extremely difficult to convince the president to sign legislation.

Perhaps no issue reflects the potential for such gridlock more than the Demo­crats' inability to raise the federal minimum wage. NRCA does not lobby on this issue because construction industry pay is substantially higher than the minimum wage. But NRCA is monitoring the tax package added to the wage hike because its provisions could affect NRCA members.

Small-business tax provisions

The House passed a clean minimum wage increase Jan. 10 and sent it to the Senate. On Jan. 31, the Senate added $8.3 billion in small-business tax provisions to the House's wage hike bill (see "Legislative compromise," April issue, page 22). On Feb. 16, the House adopted its own $1.3 billion small-business tax package to counter the Senate's package. On March 23, the House attached its combined wage hike and $1.3 billion tax package to HR 1591, the Iraq War supplemental spending bill. The Senate countered this on March 27 by beefing up its tax provisions from $8 billion to $12 billion and attaching them to HR 1591.

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