Federal-Individual Surety Bill Poised for Action in the U. S. Senate

June 6, 2012 in News

The U.S House passed H.R. 3534 by a voice vote on May 15. This is the individual surety legislation that SFAA and NASBP have sought in Congress this session. H.R. 3534 requires that the security that stands behind every federal contractor’s obligations to the federal government should be governed by the same rules.

There should be either a corporate surety bond in place from a company approved by the U.S. Treasury or assets with readily identifiable value pledged and relinquished to the federal government while the construction project is ongoing.

As expected, H.R. 3534 was assigned to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC). SFAA and NASBP had been meeting with the staffs of Members of HSGAC even before H.R. 3534 passed the House, and since the bill came over to the Senate, we now have met with or have meetings scheduled with the staffs of all the Senators on HSGAC. We also have met with the majority and minority committee staffs.

Several SFAA members also had a large role in this effort when they met with Senators from their state that serve on HSGAC during Congressional Action Day this year. Several of those Hill meetings provided SFAA and NASBP with critical contacts for moving the individual surety bill in the Senate. We have gotten no push back on H.R. 3534 in any of our Senate visits. The bill seems to make sense to everyone we’ve met with.

Since H.R. 3534 is non-controversial in that it had bipartisan sponsorship and passed out of the House by a voice vote, the bill will not need to be heard in committee in the Senate. In addition, obtaining a Senate sponsor for a companion bill in the Senate also is not necessary, and it would only slow down the process at this point.

If there is a Senate sponsor, then HSGAC likely would need to conduct a hearing on the Senate bill, rather than act on the House bill. As it stands, H.R. 3534 could proceed directly to mark up in HSGAC and then to passage in the Senate on the unanimous consent calendar.

Once a bill is marked up and is out of committee in the Senate, usually it is hotlined. In this process, the bill is sent to the cloakrooms of both parties to alert their members that the bill will be on the unanimous consent agenda on a specified date. This gives all Senators a chance to object. Any one Senator can put a hold on the bill. If there is no objection, H.R. 3534 would be scheduled on the Senate consent calendar for floor action.

One major factor is timing. There are not many legislative days between now and the time Congress adjourns for the July 4th recess and then adjourns for the month of August for its summer state work period. We know for certain that HSGAC will have one mark up before the August recess, and that will be either right before the July 4threcess or right after. There could be another mark up as well, depending on the bills on the HSGAC agenda.

Ideally, we would like to see H.R. 3534 on the upcoming mark up. The Senate HSGAC majority staff should be able to tell us soon regarding whether that will happen. After the August recess, the clock begins to run in terms of getting this done this session.

View the full text of H.R. 3534 (pdf)