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The House Committee on Appropriations July 11 started what could be a days-long effort of considering legislation that would cut discretionary spending for the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board.
The appropriators are marking up the 2019 fiscal year funding legislation for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments. The bill would give the DOL $12.1 billion in discretionary appropriations, an $88.8 million decrease from the current funding level that expires Sept. 30. It would shrink NLRB funding by $12.8 million to $261.3 million. Both proposed reductions are less than the White House sought in its budget request.
Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) lauded the bill for including measures that “prioritized funding for career and technical education and other job training programs that will help our nation train and support a 21st Century workforce.”
The Labor-HHS bill seeks to cut DOL funding by getting rid of some job training programs deemed less effective. The legislation also increases funding for some apprenticeships and veteran training programs.
Some Democratic appropriators criticized parts of the legislation, including labor-related policy riders like a provision to block the NLRB from exercising jurisdiction over tribal governments. This would mean workers at those government-owned businesses, such as casinos, wouldn’t have the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act.
“It even includes riders that will strip away essential protections that keep Americans safe at work,” committee ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said.
Early discussions about the appropriation veered into immigration issues and the Trump administration’s recent controversial policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants. The panel was still considering dozens of proposed amendments to the bill as of early evening July 11.
A committee approval would advance the legislation to the full House for consideration. Both House and
leaders are seeking to pass several appropriations bills before the August recess.
Senate appropriators June 28 approved their version of the Labor-HHS bill ( (S. 3158). The House and Senate bills have some differences.
The Senate bill’s proposed discretionary appropriation for the DOL closely mirrors the House version of $12.1 billion. The Senate version, however, would keep NLRB funding unchanged for FY 2019 and doesn’t include any of the policy riders in the House bill.
If the House and Senate bills are passed, the two chambers will eventually have to come together in conference to reconcile them.
House appropriators July 11 passed the manager’s packet of clustered amendments that included measures regarding health care and labor. That included language that would request the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division give notice that living donors who are otherwise qualified under the Family and Medical Leave Act are “eligible for family medical leave when they donate solid organs, or portions thereof, to another person.”
The measure was lauded by members, including Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.)
“Right now if you give a kidney it’s considered an elective donation and you may not be covered by FMLA,” she said, adding that there are scenarios where people die waiting for donation and giving workers access to leave eligibility would “alleviate some” barriers.
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