What: All Issues : Labor Rights : General Union Rights : H.R. 720 (Water Quality Financing Act of 2007)/On passage (2007 house Roll Call 135)
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H.R. 720 (Water Quality Financing Act of 2007)/On passage
house Roll Call 135     Mar 09, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was the final vote on legislation to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to authorize $14 billion over the next 5 years to local agencies to fight water pollution, and an additional $2 billion from fiscal 2008 through 2012 for three other existing clean-water Environmental Protection Agency programs.

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.

The bill was opposed by the White House and many House Republicans because it included language expanding the scope of federal prevailing-wage requirements. Known as the Davis-Bacon Act, it mandates that workers on federally-funded construction projects receive locally prevailing wages and benefits, which is generally defined to mean wages received by unionized workers in the area. 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.

Republicans maintained that local governments could not afford the construction projects if the Davis-Bacon prevailing-wage requirements were included. Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) and other Republican lawmakers 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."

By a vote of 303-108, a measure to authorize money for a federal- and state-backed revolving fund to provide low-interest loans to municipalities to finance local infrastructure projects aimed at reducing water pollution easily passed the House. The measure included a provision expanding the scope of federal prevailing-wage requirements under the Davis-Bacon Act that mandate that workers on federally funded projects receive comparable wages to unionized workers in the area. The bill had yet to be taken up in the Senate.

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