In response to the damage & destruction done by Hurricane Katrina (and then Rita), President Bush on September 8th. issued a proclamation suspending the application of the Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements on federal projects in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Davis-Bacon requirements are that federal construction contactors pay locally prevailing wages on all projects costing more than $2,000; Congress had stipulated that the President could suspend application of that statute in a national emergency under 40 USC §3147.
The President’s proclamation was met with a ripple of bills in Congress. H.R 3684 echoes the President’s proclamation and would suspend Davis-Bacon wage rate requirements “in any area the President determines to be a major disaster… not to apply for a period of 1 year from the date on which the President makes such determination.”
HR 3763 and S 1749 would reinstate the application of wage requirements “notwithstanding the proclamation of the President.”
And HR 3834 seeks to “repeal the authority of the President to suspend the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act … and reinstate the application of such requirements…”
A related article this morning on USAToday.com looks at the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and FEMA’s awarding of some contracts without the competitive bidding normally required for governmental purchases.