9:38 AM Eastern - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Trouble brewing: House GOP eyes use of spending bills to dismantle protections for working families #default

House Republicans have released a spending plan that undermines the agencies charged with protecting workers' rights to fair pay and overtime, making sure workers can bargain collectively for higher pay and better benefits and providing healthcare to tens of millions of Americans. It's a terrible bill, and every member of Congress should reject it.

We have known for months that Republicans would underfund the vital services working families need. Among other things, the bill cuts funding for Pell grants and the National Labor Relations Board and even zeroes out funds that provides health care to low-income women. For these reasons alone, it should be rejected.

But the bill unveiled today goes much further by including dozens of provisions, known as riders, that would erode protections working families have fought for--and won--over the past six years. For example:

  • The bill would undermine new rules preventing companies that receive federal contracts from stealing from their employees or illegally firing pregnant women and older Americans. This attack on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order would put the safety of working men and women--as well as their paychecks--at further risk.
  • In an unprecedented move, it would undermine the independence of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by interfering with its responsibility as an independent agency to interpret the law, as well as take away the board's ability to decide which companies do and do not have to be at the bargaining table, or have or have not violated workers' rights.
  • It would prevent implementation of the NLRB's election rule, which has already made a real difference for workers. Just a couple of weeks ago, some 1100 employees of Peacehealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Oregon voted to join together in a union, in the largest private-sector win for workers in that state in at least two decades. House GOP leaders want to go back to using 20th-century rules that slowed down the process and tilted the playing field in favor of corporations--a scheme that President Obama has already vetoed once.
  • And, of course, it would go back to the old tried-and-true House GOP plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, this time blocking funds from being used to "implement, administer, enforce, or further any provision of" the law.

Instead of governing, Republicans leaders are again using government spending bills--and with it, risking a government shutdown--to halt the progress that has been made for working people. They already shut down the whole government once over policy riders, and they nearly shut down the Department of Homeland Security. Now they're showing once more that they intend to use appropriations riders to hold America hostage to advance their policy goals.

It is time to put a stop to Republican leaders' abuse of spending bills to prevent the president from making progress for working people. Any bill that rolls back the progress that has been made to strengthen our economy, help working families make ends meet or prevent our system from being rigged against hardworking Americans must be rejected.

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