shutterstock_544843777

115th Congress Kicks Off with Opportunities and Challenges for the Aggregates Industry

Today, a new Congress is sworn in and session begins.  For the first time in 88 years, a Republican majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will welcome a new president of the same party.

“With Congress and the White House held by the same pro-business party, there is an incredible opportunity for NSSGA and the entire aggregates industry to affect change in the federal policy that impacts everything from transportation spending to permitting and mineral definitions,” said Michael W. Johnson, NSSGA president and CEO.

Stymied by President Obama over the past eight years, the GOP can more easily advance their agenda.  Things won’t be smooth sailing for the congressional leadership, as procedural snags in the Senate will put a damper on unimpeded progress.  First, for anything to get accomplished in the Senate, 60 votes are required to move forward on any bill.  Second, there will be a great deal of time and scrutiny expended on President Trump’s administration picks.

Key for the aggregates industry is the new administration’s pick to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“NSSGA is actively pushing for a new MSHA administrator from the metal/non-metal sector of the mining industry instead of coal, as there are seven-times more MNM operations than coal,“ Johnson added.  In addition to reaching out directly to Trump’s transition team, the association’s lobbyists have been active pushing several candidates to fill the post in the halls of Congress.

President-elect Trump’s ten-year $1 trillion infrastructure spending promise is another big opportunity for the aggregates industry.  It has some support in the House, depending how it’s paid for, but Senate leaders have said it’s not their highest priority.   Other key issues for the industry up for debate could be tax reform; the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, which would strengthen the aggregates workforce; and Air Traffic Control reforms, which would be an opportunity to increase the Passenger Facility Charge and Airport Improvement Program’s funding.

“Most importantly, congress has an opportunity to stop and potentially reverse some of President Obama’s most onerous and burdensome regulations, such as the Waters of the U.S. rule, Workplace Exams rule, pattern of violations, and the new silica exposure standards,” Johnson said.  NSSGA will be busy urging the Trump administration to make changes to existing policies that are based on sound science and legal policy.

With the election of Donald Trump and the Republicans maintaining majorities in the House and Senate, the opportunities for increased infrastructure spending, tax reform and regulatory relief are high. NSSGA and a grassroots army of state aggregates association, operators in the field, geologists, safety officers, engineers and executives have the potential to affect great change, as long as we are united, focused and thoughtful for the benefit of the entire stone, sand and gravel industry.