By Chris Opfer
Dec. 6 — Republicans are confident that they will be able to permanently block the Labor Department’s overtime rule by wrapping up their business early enough this year to restart the clock on a pending challenge to the regulation when lawmakers reconvene in January.
“Everything is going according to schedule, I think so,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 6. “We’re going to get the CR done and get out of here,” he added, referring to the continuing resolution to fund the government through March that the House is expected to pass this week. “We’re looking at the Congressional Review Act, and overtime is one of the things that we want to go after.”
The rule, which was expected to make some 4 million workers newly eligible for overtime pay starting Dec. 1, is already on hold. A federal judge in Texas last month issued a temporary injunction blocking the new time-and-a-half pay requirements from taking effect, finding that the DOL exceeded its authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
If one chamber of Congress recesses for the year by Dec. 9, lawmakers will restart the clock on a pending disapproval resolution ( S.J.RES.34) for the rule. The resolution, authorized by the CRA, requires only a simple majority to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress next year and is considered likely to be signed by President-elect Donald Trump once he takes office.
Walberg has been one of the most vocal critics of the rule in the House and is a sponsor of bills to stop or slow it. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, also confirmed that the plan is for at least one chamber to leave on time—within 60 legislative days from the date on which a final version of the rule was published—to extend the deadline on the CRA challenge.
The rule (RIN:1235-AA11) would more than double the salary threshold—up to about $47,500—under which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Critics have said the increase is too much too fast and warned that it would force employers to shed jobs and trim hours.
It’s not clear what, if anything, happens next in the event lawmakers or a court stops the rule permanently. Some critics in Congress have said they would favor a smaller threshold increase, but many businesses have already started complying with the rule by raising workers’ pay above the $47,500 level.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we need to use this opportunity to look at it in a realistic fashion,” Walberg said with regard to updating the threshold from its current level, about $24,000. “That level is probably too low.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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