House Subcommittee OKs Spending Bill for Labor Department, NLRB

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By Tyrone Richardson

A House appropriations subcommittee approved a bill July 13 that would reduce fiscal year 2018 discretionary spending for the Labor Department and the NLRB, clearing the measure for full-committee action as early as next week.

The FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies funding bill would reduce DOL spending to $10.8 billion, an 11 percent decrease compared to the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The bill also would cut the National Labor Relations Board budget by nearly 11 percent, to $249 million. The proposed spending for the two agencies is somewhat different from what the Trump administration proposed in May.

The nearly 30-minute subcommittee hearing ended with the majority voting in favor of moving the bill for full-committee consideration. Democrats unanimously voted against the action.

“In short, the funding in this bill fails to meet our country’s needs, breaks our promises to women, seniors, students and our workforce,” Ranking Democrat Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) said just prior to the vote.

Having the spending bill addressed by the full-committee next week is part of House leadership’s aggressive goal to move all spending bills for floor action before the August recess.

Some Contrast from Trump’s Proposals

The 11 percent reduction for the DOL is less than the 20 percent proposed by Trump, which largely targeted jobs programs.

The House proposal reduces jobs programs by giving $8.5 billion for the Employment Training Administration—a $1.5 billion reduction from the current fiscal year, but $848 million more than Trump requested.

The House bill also includes $1.69 billion for Job Corps, which is a decrease of $16 million from FY 2017 but $239.7 million above Trump’s request. The proposal also calls for $217.5 million for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, a $10 million decrease from the current fiscal year. That proposal is $12.6 million less than the $230.1 million the Trump administration requested.

Also in the bill are:

  •  $544 million for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the same as the current level;
  •  $284 million for Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which is $5 million above current budget; and
  •  $359.9 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is $14 million less than the current amount.
As for the NLRB, the House’s appropriation draft seeks to reduce spending by $25 million compared to the current fiscal year, a deeper cut than the $16 million reduction Trump requested in his budget proposal.

Subcommittee chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) lauded the budget proposal during the July 13 markup, saying it balances priorities. He added that the proposal was the start of the process for allocations, saying he was open to proposed changes.

“This bill represents a balanced approach that will benefit every American and maintain appropriate stewardship of taxpayer dollars that we are entrusted with as members of Congress,” he said.

Riders Seek to Thwart Joint-Employer, Fiduciary Rule

As expected, the proposed spending bill is leaner on policy riders than in previous years. Still, there are provisions to block the NLRB’s expanded definition of joint-employer liability and to stop the board from exercising jurisdiction over Indian tribes.

Another rider would block the fiduciary rule, which imposes conflict-of-interest restrictions on retirement investment advisers. The proposed riders drew criticism from DeLauro, who mentioned some during her opening statement during the markup.

Some groups, such as the National Restaurant Association, applauded the effort to thwart the expanded definition of joint-employer liability.

“We are grateful to Chairman Cole for including the defunding provision in the labor spending bill to prevent further expansion of this vague standard. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to put a final end to this policy that is stifling growth and opportunities for employers and employees alike,” Shannon Meade, director of labor and workforce policy at the National Restaurant Association, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail July 13.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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