If you have questions or would like more information regarding any of the issues discussed here, please contact NRCA’s Washington, D.C., office at (800) 338-5765.
NRCA chairman of the board testifies before Congress. In May, NRCA Chairman of the Board Nick Sabino of Deer Park Roofing Inc., Cincinnati, testified on behalf of NRCA before the House Committee on Small Business at a hearing to discuss the need for immigration reform that meets the workforce needs of small businesses. Testifying before Congress is a great opportunity for NRCA to advocate for solutions to the acute workforce shortages confronting the roofing industry. During the hearing, Sabino described the workforce development challenges facing his company and discussed the negative effects of chronic workforce shortages on the broader industry. He urged members to support the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act (H.R. 1740), bipartisan legislation to establish a market-driven visa system that matches willing employers with temporary foreign workers to meet workforce needs in roofing and other industries. He also urged Congress to provide a permanent solution for employees, including many in the roofing industry, now working under Temporary Protected Status, as contained in the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6). Sabino concluded his testimony by reaffirming NRCA’s desire to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis in support of immigration reform that addresses future workforce needs. The hearing, including Sabino’s statement to the committee, can be viewed by clicking here.
House approves Dream and Promise Act. The House approved the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), legislation to provide a permanent solution for several categories of immigrants whose work status is currently uncertain. The bill would provide individuals now working legally in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status with legal permanent resident status. TPS is granted to individuals who come to the U.S. because of natural disasters and wars and allows them to work legally for specified periods of time. The bill also would grant legal permanent residence status, and ultimately the opportunity to achieve citizenship, to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minor children. NRCA supports providing a permanent solution for individuals in both categories as there are significant numbers of them working within the roofing industry. Failing to provide an opportunity for these hardworking individuals to continue working in our industry would exacerbate the already severe workforce shortages facing the roofing industry. H.R. 6 was approved on a vote of 237-187, with all Democrats and seven Republicans supporting the bill. However, the bill faces a veto threat from the White House, and the outlook in the Republican-controlled Senate is uncertain.
Trump administration begins sending Social Security no-match letters. The Social Security Administration recently began sending no-match letters to notify employers when a W-2 Form it has submitted contains a name and Social Security number combination that does not match the government’s database. Such discrepancies can arise because of many types of commonplace events, such as marital name changes, but also can indicate an individual is using false identification. The receipt by an employer of a no-match letter for a given employee is not by itself conclusive evidence an employee is not authorized to work in the U.S., but the letter puts employers on notice of a possible issue with the employee. Employers who receive an SSA no-match letter may want to consult with legal counsel regarding how best to handle the situation. More information regarding this matter can be viewed by clicking here.
Steel and aluminum tariffs lifted. To improve the prospects for congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiated last year, President Trump rescinded tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico, which had been levied in 2018. The move came shortly after members of Congress, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), indicated removal of the tariffs was a prerequisite for consideration of the USMCA by Congress. The tariffs had formally been established on the grounds of protecting national security but were widely viewed as efforts to gain leverage with Mexico and Canada during the USMCA negotiations. The removal of the steel and aluminum tariffs have improved the outlook for Congress to approve the USMCA—a top administration priority. However, President Trump’s subsequent threat to impose tariffs on all imports from Mexico unless the Mexican government does more to reduce illegal migration from Central American countries has injected further uncertainty into the prospects for approval of the USMCA. Even though a deal to avert the new tariffs was reached with Mexico June 7, the threat of future tariffs remains if Mexico fails to follow through on efforts to reduce migration, and this uncertainty further clouds prospects for approval of the USMCA.
Expansion of federal apprenticeships. The Department of Labor is moving forward with efforts to finalize a regulation to establish a pilot program for new industry-recognized apprenticeship programs. This action is consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order issued in 2017, which directed the agency to expand apprenticeships by providing a less costly, more streamlined option compared with traditional registered apprenticeship programs currently overseen by DOL. The regulation would provide employers and industry groups with more flexibility in designing and operating apprenticeship programs designed to meet workforce development needs. Early versions of the draft regulation indicated the new apprenticeships in the pilot program would not initially be made available to construction employers because of “the existing high concentration” of federally registered apprenticeship programs in the construction industry, and it is unclear whether the final regulation will retain this exclusion. NRCA believes new options for apprenticeship programs could be highly beneficial to the roofing industry and has met with DOL officials to urge them not to exclude the construction industry from the new program.
White House involvement in Department of Labor policy. President Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is intervening in decision-making at the Department of Labor, according to former administration officials and other sources recently cited by Bloomberg Law. In recent months, Mulvaney and White House officials have reportedly instituted a process for overseeing DOL’s regulatory policies. The move comes as many in the business community have expressed frustration with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta’s overly cautious approach to regulatory policy, which some view as out-of-step with the rest of the Trump administration’s aggressive efforts to reverse the regulatory policies of the Obama administration. In addition to asserting decision-making at DOL, the White House also recently forced out Acosta’s top deputy, Nick Geale, over claims Geale was abusive to department staff and may have misled the White House regarding DOL’s activities. Given this new dynamic, it appears the pace of deregulatory policies may quicken at the DOL during the remainder of President Trump’s term.
Nominee to head Occupational Safety and Health Administration withdraws. President Trump’s nominee to head OSHA, Scott Mugno, formerly vice president of safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx, withdrew from further consideration for the position. Mugno’s nomination to become Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health had been approved twice by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions—most recently earlier this year—and he was waiting for a vote in the full Senate to finalize the nomination. However, full Senate consideration has been continually delayed since he was originally nominated in 2017 because of the unprecedented backlog of executive branch and judicial nominations now awaiting Senate floor time. The backlog is the result of the Senate’s focus on confirming President Trump’s nominees for judgeships and hyperpartisanship in Washington, D.C. NRCA had strongly supported Mugno’s nomination given the Washington, D.C., staff had worked with him when he chaired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce OSHA policy committee. He was expected to focus on promoting greater levels of education and compliance assistance to reduce regulatory burdens on employers without compromising safety, so his withdrawal is a lost opportunity to advance effective safety policy.
Expired tax provisions. The outlook remains uncertain for Congress to act on tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017, including credits and deductions designed to incentivize energy-efficiency improvements to commercial and residential buildings. Legislation to extend the provisions faces significant opposition from some lawmakers because of the implications for increasing the federal budget deficit. The Senate Finance Committee recently established bipartisan task forces to further evaluate the provisions with the objective of determining their value to businesses and other taxpayers. The task force on energy-related provisions will be led by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the task force on business tax recovery provisions will be led by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The goal is to conclude the task force work by the end of June and develop legislation for possible consideration later this year. In the House, Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee floated a proposal that would reduce the estate tax exemption in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to pay for the extension of these expired tax provisions through the end of 2019, but the legislation has yet to be formally introduced. NRCA continues to monitor developments on legislation regarding the expired tax provisions.
Health Insurance Tax update. Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) recently introduced the Jobs and Premium Protection Act (H.R. 2447), legislation to permanently repeal the Health Insurance Tax. The HIT—which was authorized by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and took effect in 2014—adds to the cost of health insurance premiums for all employers and individuals with fully insured coverage. Last year, NRCA and allied organizations successfully advocated for an amendment to suspend the HIT for 2019, but the tax is scheduled to take effect again in 2020. This legislation joins the previously introduced Health Insurance Tax Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 1398) that would suspend the HIT for 2020 and 2021 but not fully repeal it. NRCA is continuing to advocate for delay or full repeal of this onerous tax, but the outlook is highly uncertain given the implications for the federal budget deficit.
ROOFPAC will host reception at Ditka’s during NRCA’s Midyear Meetings in Chicago. ROOFPAC will host an evening of fun, food and drinks at Ditka’s, a classic Midwestern establishment, during NRCA’s Midyear Meetings in Chicago Wednesday, July 10, from 6-7:30 p.m. A ROOFPAC contribution of $100 per person and $150 per couple is requested, and members of NRCA’s Political Insiders Council and their guests receive complimentary admission. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres with your colleagues while supporting ROOFPAC, the voice of the roofing industry on Capitol Hill. For more information or to request a registration form, please contact Nathan Pick in NRCA’s Washington, D.C., office at (800) 338-5765 or email@example.com. If you are not attending NRCA’s Midyear Meetings but are interested in supporting ROOFPAC, please contact the Washington, D.C., office or visit nrca.net/advocacy/ROOFPAC.