The Farm Bill’s Davis-Bacon Provisions

By May 21, 2008Labor Unions

Oh, that’s right. From a news release last Friday from the Associated Builders and Contractors:

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) today urged President George W. Bush to keep his promise to veto the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419) over the expansion of the Davis-Bacon Act, among other issues. The legislation would expand Davis-Bacon from federal construction contracts to the bio-refinery loan guarantee program and subject local entities and private employers to federal micromanagement.

“The Davis-Bacon provision in the Farm Bill is a desperate attempt by Congress to keep alive a Depression-era law that has no place in the 21st century,” said ABC President and CEO Kirk Pickerel. “Besides being discriminatory towards minority contractors; open to waste, fraud and abuse; and violating state’s rights; it unnecessarily drives up the cost of a construction project that ultimately has to be paid by the taxpayer.”

The Davis-Bacon Act is a 1931 federal law that establishes wage rates and other conditions on construction projects involving more than $2,000 in federal funds. The law is named after co-authors Sen. James Davis and Rep. Robert Bacon.

“Eliminating the Davis-Bacon Act’s requirements would reduce unnecessary federal spending and guarantee more construction for the dollar,” said Pickerel. “In turn, more money would be available for important public projects such as schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and low-income housing.”

More from ABC here, including reference to the CBO estimate that the Davis-Bacon Act “already costs taxpayers more than $9.5 billion over the 2002 to 2011 period relative to the 2001 appropriations and $10.5 billion relative to 2001 appropriations adjusted for inflation. A more recent estimate, from the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in January, suggests Davis-Bacon costs taxpayers $8.6 billion per year.”

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