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LEAP 2015 Tentative Issues

MANY ISSUES WILL come before Congress between now and the LEAP Conference in mid-May. Republicans now control both the House and Senate, and this should make for an interesting legislative session! However, we don’t have a firm idea yet about what issues may be on the main Republican agenda and whether Congress will work with the administration. Much will depend on what moves forward in the next month or two. While there are many issues on which we could lobby, we do try to limit them to about four major topics for our visits to the Hill. Once we have a better picture of how some important issues (such as trade) play out, we’ll finalize this year’s lobby topics and post them on our website.

Below are some of the issues we are considering for this year’s LEAP Conference.

We always welcome suggestions for our annual lobby visits, so feel free to pass your ideas on to us. Please keep in mind that we need to avoid specific, local issues for our main topics, but delegates should definitely make those a priority when visiting members of Congress and make the best use of their time with them.

We have a lot to discuss at LEAP this year, and we look forward to a very exciting conference.

Energy

A handful of bills will be introduced addressing EPA regulations, streamlining permitting on energy projects, another attempt to pass a coal ash bill, and other related issues.

Trade

This may be the biggest ongoing battle in Congress when we meet. Like last year, we are still waiting to see if Congress tries to pass a renewal of “fast track authority” in advance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (NAFTA on steroids) being finalized by the administration. We will most certainly lobby against the TPP, but if the recently introduced fast track bill has not been passed by the end of April, it will be our main focus. We do not want Congress to give up their authority of oversight on trade deals, which is what fast track would do. No hearings, no oversight. Just an up-or-down vote on a trade agreement no one has seen.

Ship Building

We remain committed to supporting the Jones Act. We oppose the possibility of the Act becoming a bargaining chip in upcoming major trade deals. We support a recommitment to loan guarantees. As for defense spending, we will have to see what the White House proposes in its upcoming budget in February and what Congress tries to appropriate. We had to put a few fires out last year on amendments stripping funding from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), for example.

Pension Reform

At the end of 2015, certain pension reforms were added to the omnibus spending bill at the last minute. These changes included overturning the “anti-cutback rule” of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which prohibited cuts to current retirees from any plan, troubled or not, and an increase of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) premiums on multi-employer plans. There may be some effort to completely repeal these changes or some effort to minimize or correct the worst of these new changes.

Questions? Contact Us?

Cecile Conroy
Directory, Government Affairs
(202) 756-2868 x202
cconroy@boilermakers.org

Tags  LEAP Issues
Reporter  V54N1
Published on the Web: April 2, 2015

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