What: All Issues : Labor Rights : General Union Rights : H.R. 720 (Water Quality Financing Act), Baker of Louisiana amendment to strike the provision in the bill applying Davis-Bacon local wage parity requirements to wastewater construction projects financed with non-federal funds/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 house Roll Call 133)
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H.R. 720 (Water Quality Financing Act), Baker of Louisiana amendment to strike the provision in the bill applying Davis-Bacon local wage parity requirements to wastewater construction projects financed with non-federal funds/On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 133     Mar 09, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to legislation authorizing $16 billion for a federal and state revolving fund to help local governments fight water pollution. The amendment, offered by Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.), sought to remove the portion of the bill that would require the wastewater construction projects funded through the bill to abide by the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that workers on federally-funded construction projects receive locally prevailing wages and benefits which is generally defined to mean the wages received by unionized workers in the area.

Unamended, the legislation would expand the reach of that law to include wastewater construction projects paid for with non-federal funds. The White House threatened to veto the bill over the Davis-Bacon language.

State and locals governments pressed Congress to reauthorize the revolving fund, which matches federal and state contributions to provide low-interest loans for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other projects designed to reduce pollution, but Baker and other Republicans maintained that the local governments could not afford the construction projects if the Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage requirements were included. Republicans such as Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) claimed that the inclusion of the language was a giveaway to labor interests at the expense of the American people.

Democrats said the language was pro-family and pro-worker, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said the provision was "fair and appropriate."

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) said the Davis-Bacon provisions prevent lower-cost out-of-state contractors from having an unfair ability to compete for local publicly funded construction, and thereby "protects local interests and construction workers."

Democrats were unanimous in their opposition to the amendment, and 50 Republicans joined all 230 Democrats present in voting against it. Thus, by a vote of 140-280, a bill authorizing funding for a revolving fund to help finance local wastewater projects went forward without an amendment that would strike a provision in the bill requiring that the workers on such projects receive locally prevailing wages.

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