Washington Report: Advocacy

by Patty Power, ACPA Washington Advocate

In Washington, there is a famous saying that if you are not at the table, you are on the menu! The message is that if you have interest affected by potential federal actions, you must engage with decision-makers in Washington. Failing to do so puts your interest at risk, hence being dinner versus enjoying dinner ...

The American Concrete Pumping Association recognizes the importance of engaging with both congressional and executive branch policymakers whose work directly affects our members’ business. ACPA’s advocacy targets congressional committees that pass the laws authorizing federal funding for infrastructure programs and regulate the construction and transportation industries. Infrastructure projects use a lot of concrete, and road projects support the good condition of our nation’s roads and bridges on which our pumps travel every day.

Similarly, ACPA works with federal departments and agencies with responsibility for programs that affect concrete pumping. While our work with members of Congress and congressional committees is cyclical, specific regulatory actions drive our efforts with the executive branch. Over the years, ACPA has developed relationships with various offices imposing requirements on trucking and other issues.

In addition to working directly with federal administrative offices, ACPA works with other construction industry associations who share our positions. ACPA is a long-time member of the North Atlantic Concrete Alliance (NACA), with whom we collaborate on both legislative and administrative issues. Joining with other allied associations amplifies our message. Recently, we have worked with the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

For years, Washington experienced many “Infrastructure Weeks,” when a wide swath of American companies, associations, state and local governments, and others came to voice their collective support for congressional reauthorization of the multiple laws that implement federal infrastructure programs. The “Highway” bill is the biggest of them, and a complicated one to pass. For many years, ACPA members joined “fly-ins” to conduct many congressional meetings with other construction associations, signing onto many letters of support. In 2021, Congress passed and the president signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which authorized $1.2 trillion in project spending over five years. A recent White House analysis shows that as IIJA funding flows to states and local government grantees, construction spending to build roads, bridges, public transit, water, and broadband has expanded. Total infrastructure construction spending is outpacing federal construction funding. All of this infrastructure construction requires concrete.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates commercial drivers. The FMCSA’s Hours of Service rules, designed for long-haul truckers, did not work for concrete pumps. ACPA forged a good working relationship with leadership and staff at FMCSA while working through the process to obtain an exemption to the Hours of Service rules. Once FMCSA understood that pump operators have service breaks routinely while waiting to pump, they allowed that time to count. While the exemption was active, FMCSA amended their rules to incorporate the ACPA exemption. Concrete pump operators no longer need an exemption to the FMCSA Hours of Service rules. This is a great example of the value of communicating the uniqueness of concrete pumps to federal decision makers.

ACPA works with federal agencies and industry associations to advocate for concrete pumpers.

These are just two examples of how ACPA gives voice to the concrete pumping community. Most recently, we have been monitoring sustainable building materials provisions in certain annual appropriations bills and the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that timber is not tipping the scales in federal procurement decisions. Currently, language includes reference to low-carbon concrete. We continue to work with our sponsors to advance the Concrete Pump Tax Fairness Act. And our newest issue is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Heavy Truck Phase 3 Green House Gas emission standards proposed rule. ACPA provided oral and written comments to EPA this spring. We are working with concrete and trucking partner associations to communicate our concerns — for example, we will meet with EPA along with NRMCA to ensure that EPA understands our industry, and truck and pump suppliers’ limitations.

ACPA appreciates the support of our members in our advocacy efforts. ACPA gives voice to your stories, and together we educate the federal bureaucracy on the value of the concrete pumping industry to our nation’s growth.