WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Terry O'Sullivan, General President of LIUNA (the Laborers' International Union of North America) today made the following statement regarding Congress' passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act:
On behalf of the 500,000 strong, proud, and united men and women of LIUNA, I want to commend and congratulate Senators and Representatives of both political parties for rolling up their sleeves and passing the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. We are particularly pleased that Congress chose to include five important provisions in the bill: postponing implementation of the ACA's so-called "Cadillac Tax"; reauthorizing the James Zadroga Act to help the heroes and victims of 9/11; lifting the oil export ban; extending solar and wind tax credits; and giving federal employees and military personnel a pay raise.
Congress has shown bipartisan courage in voting to postpone implementation of the Affordable Care Act's so-called "Cadillac Tax" for two years. LIUNA is just one of many labor, employer, health policy, and other groups opposed to this indefensible, misguided, and regressive 40-percent middle-class excise tax. Congressional action, while not the hoped-for outright repeal, is a big step in the right direction, and signals a recognition that the tax is deeply flawed. We hope that in the additional two years provided by this delay, Congress and the next President will, once and for all, repeal the deceptively named "Cadillac Tax."
Reauthorizing the James Zadroga Act is a fitting tribute to those who were victims of, and responded to, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The bill enables the World Trade Center Health Program to provide services for injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors for the rest of their lives, and extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five more years with additional funding. LIUNA commends the bipartisanship that Congress has shown in the enactment of this important legislation. LIUNA will always be proud that our members worked side-by-side with emergency personnel, and our brothers and sisters from other construction crafts, sifting through a toxic mix of debris to recover and clean up the Ground Zero site. These heroes' selfless devotion to that job cost many of them their health, and, tragically, some of them their lives.
Lifting the outdated, obsolete, 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports is a smart, common-sense move that will help strengthen America's position as one of the world's leading energy producers. This provision will open new markets to producers; benefit national security, the economy, and consumers; and unlock hundreds of thousands of good, middle-class jobs in the oil industry for LIUNA members and others.
Congress extended Investment Tax Credits and Production Tax Credits for wind and solar. This critical component of a practical, realistic, all-of-the-above energy strategy will give both sectors the certainty they need to plan future projects, and put LIUNA members to work. LIUNA is proud to represent safe, skilled, responsible construction and maintenance workers in every sector of the energy industry, from oil and gas, to solar and wind, to nuclear and hydropower.
Finally, Congress ended a three-year federal pay freeze by approving the President's requested package of well-deserved cost-of-living pay increases for civilian federal employees and military personnel. Although not enough to keep pace with 3 years' worth of inflation, these increases are a long-overdue step in the right direction, and we hope that they will be followed by additional pay bumps. LIUNA is proud to count among our members many federal civilian and dual-status employees.
Today Congress has displayed a great example of true bipartisanship: the leaders of our country coming together, resolving their differences, and getting the important work of governing done. Let's hope this spirit of patriotic teamwork continues into the New Year, as Congress grapples with a wide range of other important issues.
The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers' International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.
SOURCE Laborers' International Union of North America