'Blacklisting Law' Targeted for Repeal

February 1, 2017

House and Senate Republicans Virginia Foxx (N.C.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Paul Mitchell (Mich.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), issued a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) Monday seeking to block President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act.

The FPSW act requires all federal contractors bidding on contracts over $500,000 to report any labor law violations they’ve had in the last three years including wage and hour, safety and health, collective bargaining, family and medical leave, and civil rights protections. 

The rule was set to go into effect last October but a U.S. District Court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against implementing the rule in response to legal challenges lead by the Associated Builders and Contractor trade association and other business groups. Those organizations said the rule would add unnecessary costs and red tape to an already complicated process, and that claim the best way to ensure fair pay and safe workplaces is to enforce existing suspension and debarment rules. 

Labor leaders in favor of the FPSW Act said the rule would force federal contractors to obey the law and make the contracting system more fair and accountable. "Companies that receive taxpayer funded contracts should obey the law and respect their employees’ rights."

The CRA gives Congress 60 legislative days to review new federal regulations issued by government agencies and, by passage of a joint resolution, can overrule a regulation and send a resolution of disapproval to the President. The new resolution of disapproval must be signed by the President, or if the President does not sign it, both houses of Congress can override that veto with a two-thirds majority vote.

If after 60 days Congress has not acted, the rule under discussion goes into effect. Interestingly, debate on the Senate floor is limited to 10 hours.

The use of the Congressional Review Act procedure is not often used and has not been used successfully since 2001.