Final Budget Package Eliminates Most Riders, Keeps Ban on SEC Political Spending Disclosure Requirement

December 18, 2015

Despite a strong push for a reversal of the NLRB "joint employer" rule, the final budget bill passed by Congress today does not include that or any other labor-related "riders," but it does prohibit the SEC from issuing new rules requiring public companies to disclose political and lobbying expenditures to shareholders.  Notable items in (or out of) the package include:

  • SEC Political Disclosure Ban – The rider blocks the SEC from pursing political and lobbying spending disclosure rulemaking.  However, it will remain a priority for unions and other interest groups, who can be expected to advocate strongly in favor of the disclosure in the 2016 presidential election year.  The inclusion of the provision in the omnibus spending deal is significant, as there has been considerable pressure on SEC Chair Mary Jo White to undertake the disclosure, and the SEC has received over one million public requests on its website.

  • Cadillac Tax and Other ACA Items – In addition to the two year delay in the excise tax on high value employer health plans (see separate story), there were two additional items involving the Affordable Care Act—a two year moratorium on the Medical Device Tax and a one year moratorium on the tax imposed on health insurance companies' offerings of fully insured products.

  • Funding for Implementation of Blacklisting Rule – The package specifically excludes any funding of an important component of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (a.k.a., Blacklisting) Executive Order.  The Order contemplates an Office of Labor Compliance within the Department of Labor to assist the contracting officers in the various federal agencies in applying the Executive Order, which requires determinations regarding the severity of adjudicated and alleged labor law violations by contractors, and their efforts to comply.  The Office thus will not be funded in 2016.  However, the package does not include a rider prohibiting a final rule on the Order, thus allowing it to proceed next year, as expected.

  • No NLRB Joint Employer Rider – The package does not include a reversal of the NLRB's controversial "joint employer" rule in its Browning-Ferris Industries decision.  However, the efforts to include the rider generated strong support from the business community as well as indications of significant Democratic support.  Clearly, this issue is not going away.

  • Visa Waivers – The omnibus includes the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 158), which will require foreign nationals who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, or other countries of concern in the last five years to obtain a non-immigrant visitor visa from a U.S. embassy in order to travel to the U.S.  No exceptions for business travelers are included.

  • No Fiduciary Rule Rider – The omnibus does not include a provision prohibiting DOL from proceeding with its fiduciary rulemaking, despite strong bipartisan opposition to the rule.