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Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise in support of my colleague, Mr. King's amendment, to H.R. 2216, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. This amendment would ensure that no funds made available by H.R. 2216 could be used to implement, administer, or enforce the Davis-Bacon Act requirements for government contracts.
Mr. Chairman, the Davis-Bacon Act is an anachronistic law that was enacted during the Great Depression to prevent wayfaring contractors from lowballing local construction bids. In defense of my colleague, Mr. King's characterization, the sponsors of the Davis-Bacon Act originally intended for it to actually discriminate against nonunionized Black workers in favor of White workers belonging to White-only unions. Mr. King is correct--and that's in all deference to everyone in this debate--but this is indeed a vestigial remnant of the Jim Crow era and has no place in our military construction contracts and should be abandoned.
Furthermore, the Davis-Bacon Act results in billions of wasted taxpayer dollars every year. This act requires Federal construction contractors to pay their workers "prevailing wages,'' which could be as much as 1 1/2 times greater than their basic pay rate. This results in artificially high costs of construction, which are ultimately shouldered by American taxpayers.
Contractors wishing to offer a lower bid would still be required by law to pay their employees the prevailing wage and file a weekly report of the wages paid to each worker. This has a particularly negative effect on small businesses, as they are often unable to compete due to Davis-Bacon wage and benefit requirements, which reduces competition and further inflates contract rates.
Moreover, Mr. Chairman, Davis-Bacon was enacted before the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act. According to the GAO, these acts have rendered Davis-Bacon obsolete and unnecessary. There are a number of laws passed by this body that protect construction workers without the discriminatory intent and effect of Davis-Bacon.
During this time of fiscal austerity and responsibility, Congress must do all it can to lower Federal contract costs and decrease the burden on American taxpayers. This amendment is intended to stop the hemorrhage of wasteful spending and rein in our debt.
I would urge my colleagues to support this amendment by Mr. King that would, again, ensure no funds made available by H.R. 2216 could be used to implement, administer, or enforce the wasteful Davis-Bacon Act, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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