This Week in D.C.

October 7, 2021

This weekly newsletter will replace NRCA’s monthly 10@10 to cut through the noise and provide a new, easily digestible product for members. Have feedback? Email

Bottom Line Up Front

Upcoming deadlines

Oct. 18: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Treasury Department would be unable to cover the government’s bills if lawmakers do not raise or suspend the federal borrowing limit by this date. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders announced a deal today that would allow an expedited process to extend the debt ceiling into December.

Oct. 31: Congress set this new self-imposed deadline to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act concurrently with the partisan Build Back Better Act, just before federal highway funding is set to expire. President Biden made clear the $1 trillion infrastructure and $3.5 trillion tax and spending bills are unmistakably linked.

Dec. 3: Federal government funding runs out … again.

Can you believe this happened?

Protestors followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) into a restroom trying to force support for President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation. Sinema has been a pro-business Democrat and independent voice in the Senate. She is fighting to keep the bill’s cost much lower, as well as taxes, and regularly meets with NRCA to discuss its priority issues.

Deep Dive: COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for businesses with 100 or more employees

On Sept. 9, President Biden announced during the upcoming weeks, the Department of Labor will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

When the Emergency Temporary Standard is published in the Federal Register, it will take effect immediately in states where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has direct jurisdiction. The 22 states with state OSHA plans likely will have 30 days to issue their own rules that are at least as effective as the federal standard. The Emergency Temporary Standard will be open for public comment after its publication, and comments will help shape if and when a permanent rule is adopted six months later.

On Sept. 10, NRCA participated in multiple briefings with DOL officials who confirmed:

  • The testing and/or vaccination requirements are unlikely to extend to remote employees who are physically isolated from co-workers
  • Employers will need to provide employees with paid time off or allow employees to use existing paid time off to obtain vaccinations and recovery
  • There will be exceptions granted for religious and medical reasons
  • The 100-employee threshold for coverage applies to the entire employer, not work location
  • The Emergency Temporary Standard will not supersede any existing Department of Transportation rules, and the jurisdiction of transportation systems will not change

Questions that remain:

  • Who pays for testing?
  • How will employers verify vaccinations and tests?
  • What level of vaccination is required (one shot, two shots or booster?) and what are the associated waiting periods?
  • How will “employee” be defined? Will independent contractors and seasonal workers be included in the requirements and employee count?
  • What should employers do if an employee refuses to get vaccinated or tested?

NRCA will continue closely monitoring these developments and keep members fully informed. If you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact NRCA’s Washington, D.C., office.


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Tags: Advocacy


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