House Subcommittee Approves Bill That Blocks Obama Labor Policy Initiatives, Cuts Agency Funds

June 19, 2015

In a clear rebuke to the Administration’s labor policy agenda, a House appropriations subcommittee cleared a spending bill this week intended to "rein in the excessive overreach of the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board," according to the subcommittee’s Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK).  Specifically, riders included in the Labor-HHS Appropriations measure, which now heads to the full Appropriations Committee, would prohibit the use of allocated funds to implement the Board’s new union representation election rules, which have already resulted in an uptick in the number and speed of elections since taking effect on April 14.  The bill also prohibits use of such funds to litigate the interpretation of the NLRB’s "joint employer" standard, which the Board's General Counsel has sought to significantly expand for franchisors, with a potential for broadening to other situations in the Board's pending Browning-Ferris case.  Additional riders take aim at President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (a.k.a. Blacklisting) Executive Order and a proposed DOL rule that broadens ERISA's fiduciary obligations for retirement plan advisers.  Moreover, the bill's allocations amount to $1.5 billion less overall than President Obama had requested for the Department of Labor and makes significant cuts across the board to the NLRB’s 2016 fiscal year funding.  In particular, the legislation:

  • Cuts funding for DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) by 5.6 percent to $100.5 million;
  • Cuts funding for its Wage and Hour Division by 5.3 percent to $215.5 million; and
  • Reduces the NLRB’s funding by 27 percent to $200 million.
The bill has already received intense opposition from House Democrats and faces significant obstacles to passing in both chambers of Congress. In recent years, similar riders have been stripped as the agencies falling under the Labor-HHS bill have been funded under omnibus spending measures.