Legislation Lowering Labor Department Funding Advances (1)

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By Tyrone Richardson

The Senate Sept. 18 passed a minibus appropriations package that includes Labor Department funding cuts.

In a 93-7 vote, the Senate passed the House-merged version of the package legislation (H.R. 6157) to fund the DOL, the National Labor Relations Board, the Defense Department, the Health and Human Services Department, and related agencies for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

The bill includes $12.1 billion for the DOL, down $128 million from FY 2018 funding. The measure keeps NLRB funding at $274 million, unchanged for the current fiscal year for the agency tasked with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act.

The measure now moves to the House for a final vote before it would advance for President Donald Trump’s signature.

The minibus removes “poison pill” policy riders that were in the House version, appropriators have said. The GOP provisions essentially would have thwarted passage in the Senate, where the support of at least nine Democrats is required to avoid a filibuster.

The scrapped riders include a provision that would have reversed a controversial Obama-era NLRB decision expanding joint employer liability for businesses in staffing, franchise, and other contractual relationships.

Beerbot Measure Scrubbed From Minibus

The appropriators didn’t accept a provision from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would restrict the Defense Department from spending money on developing “beerbots” or other automated bartenders. Flake told Bloomberg Law the measure was intended to thwart “wasteful” spending, adding that similar automation is already being created by the private sector.

The provision stems from a government contract that was awarded to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for testing automated technology by developing robots to perform various tasks, including serving beer.

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