- Wednesday’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol incited by President Donald Trump unintentionally unified lawmakers there, the head of the Associated General Contractors of America said yesterday, as a flurry of business groups distanced themselves from the president and government leaders called for his removal from office.
- AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr also said that the results of the two runoff elections in Georgia Tuesday, which gave control of the Senate to Democrats, wouldn't make President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan a done deal, as Congress will still struggle with how to fund it. But Democratic control likely increases the probability of a controversial pro-union labor bill becoming law, he said.
- And he reassured contractors that despite Wednesday’s events, the transfer of presidential power should go smoothly. “I have no doubt there will be an orderly transition of the government,” Sandherr said during the AGC’s 2021 construction forecast webinar Thursday. “Yesterday's events had the unintended effect of uniting folks up on Capitol Hill and perhaps temporarily putting aside political differences and recognizing that it's important that the country unify at a time when we're going to be changing administrations.”
Sandherr’s comments came on an extraordinary day in Washington, when Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos both resigned in protest in the wake of Trump’s supporters invading the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to pursue Trump's impeachment if Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s Cabinet don't invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
It was also a day after Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, a powerful business trade group, called for an end to Trump’s presidency, saying “any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy.”
Calling the day's events "despicable," North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey also called on Trump — and the lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College certification — to step down.
“If Trump refuses, the Cabinet must immediately invoke the 25th amendment to remove the president," he said in a written statement.
“If these actions are not taken immediately, in anticipation of what is already one of the worst domestic episodes in our country’s history, things could get much worse over the next 14 days very quickly," he said. "Thus, we urge all law-abiding Americans to stand up and demand the same to protect our precious democracy from tyrants and thugs.”
Associated Builders and Contractors, which endorsed President Trump for his labor and tax policies leading up to the 2020 election, rebuked Wednesday’s events in an email statement to Construction Dive, without mentioning the president by name.
“Today and every day, we support democracy,” said Mike Bellaman, president and CEO of ABC, in the statement. “We do not support yesterday’s events because we reject violence and coercion and intimidation by anyone to anyone at any time.”
During the AGC webinar, Sandherr also commented on Democrats now holding 50 seats in the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris having tie-breaker authority. He argued that this shift in power wouldn't automatically help Biden’s infrastructure push.
“Members of Congress have been talking about the need to invest in infrastructure in a bipartisan fashion, but when you ask them how to pay for it, that’s when they want to change the subject and talk about the weather,” Sandherr said. “We’ll continue to make the case that now is a good time to keep the economy going by investing in infrastructure broadly.”
On the other hand, he said, Democratic control means the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which many pro-business groups have aligned against, is more likely to pass.
“It’s the No. 1 priority of the AFL-CIO, and that package has problems for both union and nonunion contractors,” said Sandherr, using the acronym for the largest union federation in the country. “It makes it easier for unions to organize, but at the same time, it allows for intermittent strikes, which generally under the law are prohibited.”