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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LYNCH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I would like to associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman from Georgia and the gentlelady from New York who spoke previously on this, and I rise in strong opposition to the gentleman from Iowa's amendment that would prevent Davis-Bacon from being enforced on projects under this act.

It is a shame, I believe, that this funding bill--which provides needed facilities for our servicemembers and benefits to our veterans--is being exploited to undermine hardworking Americans, but here we have it.

Ironically, however, in contravention with some of the things that have been said here on the floor under this amendment, Davis-Bacon requires that workers of every color and every gender be paid based on their work, not on the color of their skin, not on their gender. That flies in the face of some of the accusations that have been put out for the original purpose of this.

I do agree with the gentleman from Iowa that there were two Republicans who did originally sponsor this back in 1931, but I disagree that the danger, that the evil that it was trying to fight against back then, has gone away. As a matter of fact, it is just a race to the bottom that would ensue if we got rid of Davis-Bacon.

Like the gentleman from Iowa, I have worked on Davis-Bacon jobs. I was an ironworker for 18 years--very proud to work with the men and women of the building trades--and I've worked on jobs where some of the workers were union and some of the workers were nonunion; but the important thing was that we were not exploited by trying to pit us against each other in a race to the bottom based on the wages that we earned.

Since 1931, the Davis-Bacon Act has required Federal contractors to provide workers the local ``prevailing local wage.'' What happens is that's not the union wage, and in many cases, as the gentleman from Georgia has pointed out, it's the nonunion wage, but it is determined by a survey of the Department of Labor of the wages in that area.

The danger that it's meant to deal with is that, in some areas of the country where there's no work and folks are dealing with the recession or depression-like conditions in the construction industry, unscrupulous contractors can go down there where workers don't have any shot of going to work and they can take them at very low wages and transport them to another area of the country that has work and then depress the wage base in that area. That's what Davis-Bacon is meant to deal with, and that's still the situation that we have today and the danger that we guard against.

On these federally funded construction projects, Davis-Bacon protects these workers by preventing wage exploitation while still ensuring that the value for the taxpayer dollar and work quality are not compromised. This amount would bar funding to administer these wage requirements. Without Davis-Bacon protection, unscrupulous contractors will be free to exploit those tradesmen and -women who, despite a slight recovery in their jobs numbers, still today face high levels of unemployment.

Mr. Chairman, I want to speak for a moment about my time as an ironworker and about my involvement with the men and women of the building trades. These people are incredibly hardworking, they are immensely skilled, and they work in a dangerous industry. They truly care about the craftsmanship, and they are dedicated to getting the job done and doing it right, and working side by side with them was a true honor for me.

Generations of trades workers, by the sweat of their brows and the toil of their hands, built our great Nation. They deserve our respect, as does the work that they do. Protecting Davis-Bacon does just that.

The amendment offered by the gentleman from Iowa will not create jobs, it will not house our military, and it certainly will not result in better care and services for our veterans. All it will do is take away critical wage protections and open our workers to exploitation in a race to the bottom.

I urge my colleagues to stand behind our American workers and to stand behind our veterans and oppose this amendment. I yield back the balance of my time.


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