ACEC outlines industry priorities for US economic relief legislation

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US engineers’ association writes to Congress on measures to include ini post-Covid package.

With negotiations ongoing between Congress and the White House on a bipartisan economic relief package, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) has lobbied congressional leaders outlining the industry priorities and highlighting provisions from House and Senate measures that should be included in a final package.

In a letter to leaders, ACEC has called for the following measures to be included in the package.

  • $37bn in federal-aid highway funding for State DOTs to backstop projected revenue losses, as well as a waiver for one year of the 20% non-federal matching requirement.
  • $32bn in assistance to transit agencies throughout the country to address revenue shortfalls resulting from the pandemic.
  • Assistance to drinking water and wastewater systems as utilities are anticipating an estimated $30 billion shortfall in revenues due to COVID-19; ACEC strongly supports assistance through existing federal programs, including the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, and also supports targeted assistance to ratepayers impacted by job loss and economic hardship resulting from the pandemic.
  • $10bn for the Airport Improvement programme.
  • Correction of IRS guidance to clarify congressional intent that expenses covered by PPP loan forgiveness are also tax-deductible, which will provide needed tax relief for small and mid-sized engineering firms across the country.
  • Liability safe harbour for employers that make reasonable efforts to comply with mandatory coronavirus standards and regulations.
  • Enhanced employee retention tax credit (ERTC), and the provision allowing employers that received a PPP loan to also use the ERTC, are important provisions that will help keep people on the payroll.
  • Extending the PPP loan programme, providing a simplified loan forgiveness process for small PPP loans, and allowing 501(c)6 trade associations to participate in the program are welcome updates.

ACEC has also called on Congress to move forward on a bipartisan, long-term infrastructure-based recovery package that will stimulate economic growth and promote jobs at a time when over 17 million Americans struggle on unemployment rolls.

ACEC says that such legislation should include a robust reauthorisation of the FAST Act with sustainable and growing revenues, passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and bipartisan provisions to promote the energy sector and private development in a sustainable manner.