Feb. 15, 2021 – According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), Democratic House Leaders have drafted and advanced through nine different markups of the legislative text of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. While hundreds of amendments have been offered to this massive bill, all but one has fallen on a partisan vote, showcasing the tight grip the Speaker and her committee chairs hold on the partisan process. NSSGA has been engaged with the Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I); Energy & Commerce; and Education & Labor committees on sections of the large proposal that are important to aggregates producers, including:
- Minimum Wage: Included in the Education and Labor portion is an increase of the Federal Minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. NSSGA joined a coalition of small business groups to oppose the increase. It is widely expected this provision will not survive procedural hurdles in the Senate as key moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have expressed concern.
- Emergency Workforce Protections: The House Education and Labor provisions did not include explicit instructions to implement an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) at OSHA or MSHA but did include $150 million for “Worker Protection Activities.” NSSGA is advocating that this additional funding be used for guidance and training.
- What else is included: The text of the relief package also includes: another round of personal relief checks; paid-leave benefits; and widened tax credits for families with children and low-income individuals and extends unemployment benefits. $350 billion is provided in state and local aid and there is additional relief for healthcare, vaccine distribution, schools, renter assistance among a number of other provisions.
After the House committees finish advancing their sections, the House Budget Committee will combine the bills for a final vote. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer indicated the House is aiming to pass the measure during the week of Feb. 22, so the Senate can vote on the measure before extended unemployment benefits expire on March 14.