Congress Fights Back Against Obama’s Overtime Rule

Connor D. Wolf | Reporter

Republican congressional leadership introduced a bill Thursday aimed at blocking a proposed overtime rule that could cause unnecessary stress on businesses.

President Barack Obama has sought to change federal regulations so more workers can qualify for overtime. The Department of Labor (DOL) has put forth a proposal to expand overtime, but opponents argue it disregards how much stress it will cause businesses. Republicans have introduced legislation that would require the department to rewrite its proposal with businesses in mind.

“The Obama administration’s decision to drastically redefine overtime will hurt our workforce and our employers,” Republican Sen. [crscore]Tim Scott[/crscore] said in a statement. “It will lead to reduced hours, confusion for job creators, and will limit growth opportunities for employees.”

The rule change would essentially increase the salary threshold so people can qualify for overtime. For example, managers cannot get overtime if they make $23,660 annually, but the proposed rule would raise the threshold to $52,000. The change could make an additional five million workers eligible for overtime. Labor unions assert the change is a much needed update to federal law.

“President Obama recognizes that the current rules are out of date and too weak to protect working men and women, so we are pleased that these improvements are moving forward,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “These worker protections have been decades in the making. It’s time to push these rules over the finish line.”

Critics claim the rule will cause a lot of unintended consequences due to the added costs of labor it puts on businesses — employers could be forced to reduce worker hours or limit salaried positions. The Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) notes a lot of the problems could have been avoided if the department did a better job considering concerns from the business community.

“The department did convene a number of listening sessions where businesses could express their concerns,” PPWO Spokeswoman Lisa Horn told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “However, none of the concerns that were presented during the listening sessions made it into the proposal.”

Horn adds she is unaware of any nonprofits that were given the opportunity to express concerns. The president signed a memo March 2014 compelling the DOL to increase the exemption threshold. The department released its proposed rule change June 30 but provided businesses and lawmakers only sixty days to comment.

Republicans also issued a stern letter to federal labor officials Feb. 9 expressing their concerns. The letter was signed by 112 Republicans, while Democratic Representatives [crscore]Collin Peterson[/crscore] and [crscore]Brad Ashford[/crscore] also signed. Lawmakers have also hosted numerous hearings so businesses and experts could actually express their views.

The DOL did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.

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Tags : barack obama department of labor house of representatives tim scott
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