The day after the House Appropriations Committee released a draft bill that would significantly limit certain federal agency rules and initiatives, the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a markup session of the measure. As previously discussed, riders in the draft appropriations bill would, among other things, prevent any funds from being used to enforce the National Labor Relations Board's representation election rule, as well as its efforts to re-define "joint employment" under the National Labor Relations Act and assert jurisdiction over Native American businesses on tribal lands. Riders also would curtail several Department of Labor initiatives, such as its intent to re-define who qualifies as a "fiduciary" under ERISA, and prohibit funds from being used to create an Office of Labor Compliance. This Office will be integral to the enforcement of the President's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, often referred to as the "blacklisting" executive order. Other riders would effectively de-fund implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
During the markup session, Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said the bill takes a "thoughtful" approach to funding and includes provisions to "rein in out-of-control regulations" that hurt the economy and hinder job growth. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) disagreed, decrying the $4 billion worth of spending cuts in the bill, including a $205 million decrease in funding for the Department of Labor. She and fellow Democrats on the committee offered amendments to remove what she considered "damaging ideological riders" to the funding bill. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), for example, offered an amendment to strike riders that would prohibit funding of the blacklisting rule, the NLRB's election rule, and programs related to job training. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) was of a different mind about the impact the riders would have, and said they were needed to limit federal agency overreach. Rep. DeLauro offered amendments to support paid leave and rescind the riders related to de-funding the Affordable Care Act.
All of the amendments failed to advance, with votes falling along party lines. A full Appropriations Committee hearing is scheduled for next week, during which members are expected to continue to scrutinize the more controversial riders. Such riders are expected to face opposition from the White House and Senate Democrats as well. However, their inclusion in the House Appropriations Committee bill is a sign of the fight ahead.