Trump Signs Temporary Funding Measure, Labor Bill Debate Continues

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By Tyrone Richardson

President Donald Trump Sept. 8 signed a short-term measure to thwart a government shutdown and extend the U.S. debt ceiling. The move came the same day lawmakers continued debating a wave of proposed amendments to a bill that would fund the Labor Department, NLRB, and related agencies.

The $15.25 billion funding bill signed by Trump provides disaster aid funds for Hurricane Harvey victims and keeps the government open through Dec. 8. Lawmakers continued debate over a separate “minibus” bill (H.R. 3354) that includes a FY 2018 Labor-HHS funding measure ( H.R. 3358), a Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, which funds the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( H.R. 3267), and other government spending legislation.

The House returns next week to consider more proposed amendments. The list includes several labor-related measures like a proposal to reduce the NLRB budget by nearly 40 percent.

The House minibus bill would slash overall DOL spending by 11 percent, down to $10.8 billion. The bulk of the cuts are in job training programs, including a $1.5 billion decrease in Employment and Training Administration funding to $8.5 billion. The bill would also trim the National Labor Relations Board budget by about 11 percent, down to $249 million.

The legislation would set EEOC funding at $363.8 million, nearly unchanged from FY 2017 and practically similar to a Senate funding measure.

House Bill Bucks Trump’s Proposed Cuts

The DOL and NLRB reductions are not as sharp as those proposed by the Trump administration in May. The administration then proposed nearly 20 percent spending reduction for the DOL and a roughly 6 percent reduction for the NLRB.

The Labor-HHS postion of the legislation, which was approved by the House Appropriations committee in a party-line vote in July, also includes several labor-related riders like a provision would halt enforcement of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, an Obama-era regulation on financial-adviser conflicts of interest.

Such riders were not included in a similar funding bill approved Sept. 7 by Senate’s Committee on Appropriations. The panel’s action sets for a potential floor vote on the legislation that also bucks many of the Trump administration’s cuts. That includes funding the DOL at $12 billion, a roughly 1.6 percent reduction from this year, and holding the NLRB’s allotment at its current level of $274 million.

The Senate bill will eventually have to be reconciled with the House version. Similar riders have largely been dropped from funding legislation as it moved through Congress in recent years.

Labor-Related Amendments Considered

A House floor vote on the proposed Labor-HHS and Commerce bills could occur sometime next week. The chamber will first have to continue consideration of amendments to the funding legislation.

That includes labor-related measures, including some introduced by members of the House Committee on Education and Workforce.

Committee member Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) is proposing $150 million for the NLRB, slashing its spending by nearly 40 percent compared to FY 2017.

Ranking Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) joined Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) in an amendment that would restrict the Trump administration’s proposal to merge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a DOL subagency in charge of monitoring federal contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination compliance.

This marks the latest Congressional effort to thwart the Trump administration’s proposal.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Labor-HHS bill includes rejection of the merger proposal, and instead urges the agency to “find efficiencies and cost savings, including the consolidation of offices, within its current budget structure,” according to the document.

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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