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To the ACEC Community,

This first full week of 2024 brings good news. First, right before the holidays, President Biden signed into law the FY’24 National Defense Authorization Act, including language that ACEC has long fought for that would lift the current 6% cap on fees that apply to work for the Corps of Engineers and other Defense Department agencies to 10%.  This will allow firms that work for the DOD more room to negotiate better fees consistent with the value they bring to their federal clients. More work needs to be done to extend this reform to civilian agencies, but this change is a big step in the right direction and is a downpayment on ACEC’s commitment to continue to fight for engineering firms to get paid for the VALUE they provide to their clients.

Second, we have seen continued progress with our ongoing media and grassroots effort to provide relief for firms from the R&D amortization mandate.  The media campaign launched last October is paying dividends in growing support for legislation to fix the problem.  The TV commercials aired around the country – I know I saw them frequently here in DC, and I heard our radio ads in my home most mornings as I prepared to come to work.  We have seen the widespread placement of editorials in key state newspapers criticizing this misguided policy that is hurting America’s engineering industry.  We are making the case that fixing R&D amortization is about real people, real jobs, and real consequences.

It’s hard to believe that the Iowa GOP will hold its first-in-the-nation caucuses next Monday, kicking off the first event of the primary season. The Iowa caucus has its way of surprising and humbling frontrunners. George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden are examples of candidates who lost Iowa but ultimately won their party’s nomination. Right now, former President Trump is showing a commanding lead in Iowa (after losing to Ted Cruz there in 2016), with most polls putting him at or above 50 percent. If those numbers hold, next week’s caucus will be a second-place race between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.

The race for Iowa’s delegates is about headlines, narratives, and Sunday show bragging rights. Big wins can bolster campaigns, and crushing losses can end them, but the caucus is just the first hurdle of a long race. New Hampshire is just ahead, followed by the first test of President Biden’s electoral strength when the Democrats hold their first primary in South Carolina early next month.

Elections matter, and they count at every juncture – from local contests to the race for the White House. Washington is a complicated place where simple, commonsense government is hard. We celebrate legislative wins like the increase in the fee cap and pour our efforts into issues like R&D amortization. Still, those wins and those efforts become exponentially easier when we have a favorable slate of lawmakers hearing our concerns. So, to our Republican members in Iowa – and ultimately to ALL our members – I will leave you with this: Vote. It’s become a political axiom that elections have consequences. It is up to us to ensure that those consequences are positive ones.

Have a great week,

Linda Bauer Darr

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January 9, 2024


ACEC NEWS, President's Letter

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