On November 18th, the ABMA Legislative Committee met virtually to receive a congressional update from our Government Affairs Associate Pat Rita, discuss the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 vaccines and testing and the current legal status of the ETS, look ahead to potential 2022 priorities, and highlighted our upcoming virtual event with Congressman Kurt Schrader from Oregon.
The Legislative Committee reviewed the details of the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684). It includes over a half trillion dollars in spending on roads, ports, bridges, and rail, among other priorities. Specially, the committee members discussed the new federal system for subsidizing sawmills and other wood processing facilities, a vehicle miles travelled (VMT) fee pilot program, Electric Vehicle Working Group, and a number of Buy American provisions.
We can continue to monitor Congressional movement on the Build Back Better package (BBB). House Leadership is confident it will pass no later than November 19th. Senate Democrats would like to vote on their version of the BBB by the end of the year. Congress is facing a packed calendar in the coming weeks, including funding the government and a Dec. 15 deadline on the debt ceiling.
Committee members reviewed the OSHA Vaccine and Testing ETS and the current legal battles surrounding its implementation. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the ETS is still in effect.
The 5th Circuit justices said the rule imposes a financial burden on businesses and potentially violates the commerce clause of the Constitution. The directive “imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces—and business prospects—by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road,” they wrote.
The Sixth Circuit was selected at random from twelve of the thirteen U.S. Courts of Appeals with pending cases on the ETS. They will reconsider the Fifth Circuit’s stay. They could lift the stay and allow the ETS to be implemented pending the outcome of the litigation or they could deny the request to lift the stay, which would keep the ETS on hold for the time being.
The ABMA looks forward to our first “Inside the Capitol” virtual event with Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) on December 2nd. Registration for the event is open now. Click here to register today.
The Committee’s next scheduled meeting is Thursday, December 16, 2021, at 11am.