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Military Construction Appropriations Bill Passes After Debate on PLA’s and Davis-Bacon Amendments

6/4/2012 | Construction Blog

th2013 appropriations bill to fund military construction and various Veterans’ Administration needspassed the House on Friday, June 1, 2012. While it did not do so without significant debate over PLA’s and Davis-Bacon requirements, the entire delegations of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey voted in favor of it.

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order interpreted by most as requiring Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects. PLAs are collective bargaining agreements restricted to a specific project. When included, they require union and non-union shops alike to agree to this short-term collective bargaining agreement to bid the job.

The House is currently controlled by the Republicans, so Republicans control the Appropriations Committee and the initial drafting process. In the course of drafting the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill for military construction projects, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona proposed an amendment that many considered to ban PLA’s on military projects.

It was not the first time that debate and political wrangling ensued over the issue. During last year’s budget debate, similar language was included in the bill and removed by one vote (204-203) in an amendment. A similar outcome occurred this time, as Representative Michael Grimm of New York introduced another amendment he claimed was designed to make the bill PLA impartial. According to Grimm, both sides were looking for neutrality and his language neither requires nor prohibits PLA’s. Grimm’s amendment was adopted and passed the House with the bill on Friday by a vote of 407-12.

A second amendment was introduced seeking to remove the requirements of Davis Bacon from the bill entirely. While this issue was also debated, this amendment was defeated more easily and was not included in the bill as passed.

There remains some question as to whether the bill will be vetoed by the White House. President Obama has hinted this may be a possibility based on other objections he has to its contents. Should he do so and the bill return to Congress, it is likely these issues will be debated again.