The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in reaction to the release of Senate Republican’s latest coronavirus relief measure, the Heals Act:
“Senate Republicans have crafted a relief measure that includes a number of vital provisions that will allow hard-hit construction firms to begin rebuilding their businesses and payrolls. Among the most promising of these provisions are liability reforms so construction firms that are protecting workers from the coronavirus will not be subjected to needless litigation. The proposal also includes important improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program and a much-needed expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit, both of which will help protect construction jobs.
“The measure also takes a more thoughtful approach than the existing federal unemployment insurance benefit by protecting unemployed workers without creating artificial barriers to returning people to good-paying jobs in sectors like construction. And the ambitious workforce development provisions in this measure have the potential to help millions of unemployed prepare for new careers in middle-class professions like construction.
“The measure is not without flaws, however. Most troubling is the virtual lack of funding for new infrastructure improvements. State transportation officials are coping with a $37 billion funding shortfall, declining revenues and the uncertainty that comes with the September 30 expiration of the existing highway and transit law. Additionally, public school, health and broadband infrastructure need federal investment to meet the challenges of operating during and after the pandemic. Ultimately, such new investments are essential to sustaining and rebuilding the American economy, which is why we will work to ensure they are ultimately included in a final relief measure.
“This proposed measure includes many provisions that will help the construction industry and the broader American economy. Combined with new infrastructure funding, it will help workers and employers avoid further economic harm. That is why we will work with leaders in both parties and both houses to see a final, fuller, measure enacted as quickly as possible.”