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Making headway: A progress report on key 2023 issues

By Brock Huffstutler

August 23, 2023

In March 2023, nearly 60 members of the American Rental Association (ARA) gathered in Washington, D.C., for the association’s National Legislative Caucus. During Caucus, participants met with members of Congress and their staffers to discuss four issues that currently are impacting the equipment and event rental industry.

Some notable activity surrounding each of this year’s Caucus issues has been seen as of July 2023:

Workforce development

Workforce development legislation has started to work its way through the development process. Recent hearings have focused on the Workforce Opportunity Act. There also are discussions taking place on expanding the federal Pell Grant program for students in vocational education programs.

H-2B visas

ARA supports Returning Worker Exemption, which will simplify the H-2B visa program for businesses seeking seasonal help by exempting certain workers from the annual numerical limit on visas.

The H-2B visa coalition has reformed and ARA is a member of the coalition’s steering committee. The focus of the coalition is to support the addition of provisions into the U.S. House of Representatives’ FY 2024 appropriations bill funding the Department of Homeland Security that would enhance the returning worker provisions of the program. Coalition members asked their individual memberships to contact their members of Congress asking them to support the addition of language in the Homeland Security appropriations bill, which was successful.

Tax policy

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has announced a series of bills aimed at changing provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. These bills include an enhancement of Section 179 small business expensing that will:

  • Increase the expensing level for businesses using Section 179 to $2.5 million annually.
  • Eliminate the rule that requires businesses to report any payments to third parties of $600 or more and issuing the third party a form 1099.
  • Reinstate 100 percent expensing for larger businesses.
  • Allow 100 percent immediate expensing for research and development costs.
  • Restore EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) as the basis for interest deduction calculations for medium and
    large businesses.
Catalytic converter thefts

On May 25, a coalition of 21 organizations — including ARA — submitted a letter to the federal committees with jurisdiction over the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act, encouraging its passage. The PART Act would assist law enforcement in combating rising catalytic converter theft by providing a national framework that would mark catalytic converters with an identifying mark traceable to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), establish federal criminal penalties and create a more transparent market that deters theft.

The PART Act has received bipartisan sponsorship in the U.S. Senate (S.154, currently with five cosponsors), as has companion legislation in the U.S. House (H.R. 621, currently with 36 cosponsors). The coalition supporting these bills has been working to increase the House cosponsor list and has a subcommittee working to address some concerns related to the federal criminal provisions in the bill.