Backgrounder

Davis-Bacon Repeal Act

Bill name: Davis-Bacon Repeal Act
Bill sponsors: S. 805, sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT); H.R. 2218, sponsored by Rep. Bob Good (R-VA)

Summary: The Davis-Bacon Repeal Act would eliminate the Davis-Bacon Act, a law from 1931 requiring workers to be paid the local “prevailing wage” for federally-funded construction contracts worth more than $2,000.  A “prevailing wage” is the hourly rate for laborers and mechanics in a specific region, as set by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Sen. Lee said, “The Davis Bacon Act exemplifies how big government hurts the people it purports to help, gives unfair advantages to favored special interests, and squeezes the middle class. The Davis-Bacon Repeal Act would remove these government-imposed obstacles to economic opportunity facing low-skilled workers and return wasted taxpayer dollars back into the hands of the American people.”

The Davis-Bacon Repeal Act has been introduced in every congress since 2006 and has been offered as an amendment at various times, though it has not become law as either a standalone bill or amendment.

A different legislative approach from some Republicans has been to modernize the Davis-Bacon Act to increase the dollar threshold for contracts to something larger than the current $2,000 trigger. For example, in 2015 and 2017, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) offered amendments to the FAA bill that would have increased the Davis-Bacon threshold to $150,000, however those amendments failed.

A Davis-Bacon amendment – whether to eliminate the prevailing wage as this bill does or increase the dollar threshold – could again be offered during consideration of upcoming legislation, such as appropriations or infrastructure bills.

Bill StatusThe Davis-Bacon Repeal Act was introduced in the House and Senate in March 2021 and referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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Additional Resource

PRESS RELEASE: Sen. Lee Reintroduces Davis Bacon Repeal Act
March 18, 2021
Lee.Senate.gov

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