House Committee Approves Labor Department Funding Cuts (1)

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By Tyrone Richardson

The House Committee on Appropriations late July 11 approved legislation that would reduce discretionary spending for the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board.

The panel voted 30-22 to approve the legislation for fiscal year 2019 funding for the Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services departments. The party-line vote came after the panel spent about 13 hours considering dozens of proposed amendments, which largely focused on education and health-care issues.

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. The bill seeks increases in apprenticeship and veteran job training funding. Some proposed cuts would remove some jobs programs. The bill also would rescind $200 million in unused training funds allotted to the department this year.

NLRB funding would shrink by $12.8 million to $261.3 million. Both proposed DOL and NLRB reductions are less than the cuts that the Trump administration sought in its budget request.

Prior to the vote, some Republican appropriators lauded the legislation as a balance of priorities in areas like health care and job creation.

“This bill is one that supports and benefits all Americans,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Some committee Democrats criticized parts of the appropriations bill, including policy riders.

“Meanwhile the Senate is passing bipartisan bills and avoiding poison pill riders instead of wasting time on partisan bills with no chance of enactment,” committee ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said.

Policy Riders

The legislation includes some labor-related policy riders like a provision that would reverse the 2015 NLRB decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California Inc.

The board in the Browning-Ferris case held that one business can be considered a joint employer of another business’ workers—for unionization and other purposes—if it has indirect control over those workers. That expanded the board’s previous approach, which required direct control.

The committee’s approval advances the funding measure to the full House for consideration. Both House and Senate leaders are seeking to pass several appropriations bills before the August recess.

Senate lawmakers June 28 approved their version of the Labor-HHS bill (S. 3158). The House and Senate bills differ in agency funding levels and policy riders.

If the House and Senate bills are passed, the two chambers will have to come together in conference to reconcile them.

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