Construction materials industry pushes for stimulus funding


The transportation construction lobby is primed to pave Capitol Hill with an aggressive campaign aimed at scoring what could be a massive stimulus for the struggling industry.

And it is spurred by two multibillion-dollar proposals, backed by Republicans and Democrats, that suggest their blitz might work, despite Congress’s zeal this year for spending cuts, says

President Barack Obama is calling for monumental infrastructure investments in the name of job creation, using much of his address earlier this month before a joint session of Congress to tout as much.

Key congressional members, meanwhile, are pushing for a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that could include billions of dollars above initial expectations. Such a bill, in turn, could translate into lucrative, job-creating projects.

“The opportunity is now, front and center, for us to make our case,” said Andy O’Hare, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Portland Cement Association. “We certainly welcome and are working for a lifeline for all of these hard-hit markets.”

“Our efforts so far have borne fruit, and we’re going to be just as active in the next six months, which will be a critical time,” said Pamela Whitted, vice president of government affairs for the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.

Efforts range from traditional inside-the-Beltway lobbying fare of lawmaker meetings and staffer briefings to more circuitous outreach efforts that seek out politicians on their home turf, such as meeting them while they’re back in their districts and inviting them to tour production facilities.

Take the National Asphalt Pavement Association, which has been petitioning congressional supercommittee members in their home districts while simultaneously pressing the Senate Finance Committee and congressional Ways and Means committees to keep its member companies in mind.

“It started over the August break — we were really hammering Congress really hard, and this month is a critical month to keep the pressure on the House and Senate,” said Jay Hansen, the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s executive vice president. “It’s definitely been busier this year than in past years, and we’re going to sustain what we’re now doing. I take it as a good sign that we’re at least at the point where government is paying attention.”

Construction material companies have struggled in recent years, as the need for the metals, concrete, rock and the like have waned along with road building, bridge repair and most every other transportation project that governments could conceivably defer or delete to save a dime. The companies and affiliated organizations in some cases also scaled back their government affairs efforts, too.

The Obama-driven federal stimulus plan of 2009 helped the industry. But the effects for the construction materials industry were fleeting, executives say. Read More.


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