Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Highway Trust Fund Reform Act, H.R. 711, legislation to stabilize the federal Highway Trust Fund and spur the creation of construction jobs by exempting the fund from Davis-Bacon's outdated, wasteful labor requirements for highway construction projects. Foxx, who first introduced the Highway Trust Fund Reform Act in the 111th Congress, has partnered in the 113th Congress with original cosponsors Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).
Rep. Virginia Foxx:"Taxpayers have had to bail out America's Highway Trust Fund before, and they shouldn't have to do so again. H.R. 711 will exempt the Highway Trust Fund from Davis-Bacon wage mandates that artificially inflate federally funded highway construction costs and price newer, non-union workers out of jobs. Big Labor should not continue to use this Depression-era legislation as a shield to line its own pockets at the expense of non-union workers and taxpayers."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz:"Simply put -- we need to reform outdated and ineffective government regulations. Wages for federal government contracts should not be inflated by outdated labor requirements passed over 80 years ago. The Highway Trust Fund Reform Act is a pro-taxpayer, free-market approach to building highways."
Rep. Joe Pitts:"Pennsylvania has more structurally deficient bridges than any other state in the nation. We need to use taxpayer funds wisely and start fixing bridges as soon as possible, but federal Davis-Bacon requirements are making it more difficult. It's time that states start paying the market price for labor and get the most bang for their buck."
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland:"It is ridiculous that the federal government is still using an outdated federal construction wage rate that was passed during Herbert Hoover's Administration. Times have changed, but apparently not for the unions, who still want to have a stranglehold on federal highway construction projects and inflate the cost of doing business at the taxpayers' expense. The Highway Trust Fund is not the personal slush fund of the unions, and by repealing the obsolete Davis-Bacon wage mandates, we can ensure the cost of our federal infrastructure projects are based on real numbers, and also allow non-union workers the opportunity to work on projects that benefit the nation."
Foxx's Highway Trust Fund Reform Act does away with Davis-Bacon Act requirements that, for decades, have been driving up the cost of federal highway projects by mandating artificially high wages. When compared with Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Suffolk University researchers found Davis-Bacon-determined wages tended to inflate labor costs an average of 22 percent above market rates.
Beyond increasing construction costs for taxpayers, Davis-Bacon requirements force businesses working on federal highway projects to comply with burdensome paperwork and reporting regulations. Reports from the Government Accountability Office suggest that these Davis-Bacon requirements inflate costs and slow project completion. Removing Davis-Bacon's implications from federally-funded highway construction projects funded through the Highway Trust Fund Reform Act would free up funds from inflated wages and regulatory compliance to create more market-priced construction jobs and more affordable, timely completed projects.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to pay for labor costs, will go insolvent during FY 2015. And unless Congress acts, the Trust Fund will need an additional $126 billionin new revenue or taxpayer bailouts to cover costs through 2023. To learn more about how outdated Davis-Bacon requirements increase costs and decrease employment please read the Joint Economic Committee staff commentary on Davis-Bacon requirements and the Highway Trust Fund.