Tag: Congressional Review Act

Senate Votes To Continue Health Care’s ‘Grandfather Rule’

The Senate on Wednesday voted 40-59 against S.J.Res. 39, a “resolution of disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act that would have blocked the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing its proposed Grandfather Rule.

The National Association of Manufacturers sent the Senate a “Key Vote” letter in support of the resolution introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Excerpt:

Unfortunately, the Grandfather Rule proposed by HHS limits the ability of manufacturers to tailor their health plans to meet the needs of their workforce. This will lead to higher health care costs due to restrictions on changes made to cost-sharing, employer contributions and other routine tools businesses use to lower costs.

For example, losing grandfather status will impose additional mandates on manufacturers, such as a burdensome claims appeals process, additional transparency requirements and additional reporting requirements.

Sen. Enzi’s office issued a news release when the Senator introduced the resolution, “Enzi proposes to overturn job killing provision in new health care law.”

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Will the Senate Allow a Federal Agency to Overturn Labor Laws?

The Senate continues to debate S.J.RES.30, the “resolution of disapproval” by Sen. Isakson (R-GA) under the Congressional Review Act to prevent the National Mediation Board (NMB) from unilaterally changing the way labor unions can be formed under the Railway Labor Act.

Sen. Isakson (R-GA) took to the Senate floor to explain why he and so many of his colleagues have found it necessary to stop yet another attempt by an Executive Branch agency to rewrite labor law. The Senator rightfully points out in his remarks on the Senate floor that this rule change by the NMB would allow the will of the few to determine whether or not an entire workforce be represented by a labor union. He also pointed out that the Railway Labor Act doesn’t provide the same type of union decertification methods available to employees under the National Labor Relations Act, the law that covers most private sector employees. In essence, this means that should the NMB’s new rule be allowed to stand, a small group of employees that are able to participate in a NMB union election would be able to allow a labor union to be the exclusive representative of employees in perpetuity.

Many opponents of the measures claim that the NMB rule is appropriate by trying to draw parallels to other elections, such as those for U.S. Senate. Well, if the same logic is applied to the Senate that would mean that voters would elect Senators for life without a real opportunity to recall their Senator. Additionally, as Sen. Isakson notes, because the resolution needs 60 votes to invoke cloture to move forward, a Senator who doesn’t participate in the vote is essentially declaring a “no” vote much like the way NMB union elections are currently handled.

Earlier this week the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the Senate in support of the resolution highlighting an important point:

The Senate should disapprove this rule by supporting S.J.RES. 30, as it would harm positive employee relations and sets a disturbing precedent for other federal labor boards like the National Labor Relations Board. More importantly, we believe the NMB is circumventing the proper role of Congress in setting our nation’s labor laws on a level playing field to protect the rights of those who wish to be represented by a labor union and those who do not.

The Senate will be voting on the resolution shortly. The Senators who support the resolution will be voting to protect the rights of employees who do not necessarily wish to have a labor union represent them before their employer. Conversely, Senators who object to the resolution will be voting to allow unelected federal officials to change the rules of union elections – a change that should only be considered by Congress.

UPDATE: (1:54pm) The Senate has answered the question that we posed earlier: “Yes, we will continue to allow the executive branch to overturn our labor laws by rewriting the rules on how a labor union is formed.” The Senate voted 43 for – 56 against the resolution earlier today. Three Democratic Senators: Lincoln (AR), Pryor (AR) and Nelson (NE) joined with 40 Republicans to support the resolution. The motion required 60 votes to move forward in the Senate. Click here for the vote breakdown.

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Senator Seeks to Stop Unilateral Changes to Labor Law

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in May introduced a “Resolution of Disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act to prohibit the National Mediation Board from radically changing the process through which labor unions are formed. As we expect the proposal will come up for consideration this week, the National Association of Manufacturers has sent a letter (available here) to all Senators in support of the resolution of disapproval.

Members of the National Mediation Board (NMB) rushed through a proposal earlier in 2009 that would create sweeping changes on how labor unions are formed under the Railway Labor Act, the law that covers employees in many transportation sectors. The rule, which the NAM responded to in December 2009, would allow a small portion of employees who choose to participate in the union representation election to dictate whether or not all employees must be represented by a labor union. For decades the Railway Labor Act required that a majority of all employees vote affirmatively in support of certifying a labor union to be sole representative for national collective bargaining with their employers. This new rule, finalized by the NMB, permits a simple majority of just the employees who participated in the elections to dictate the union status for all employees. As we argue in our letter, to effectively represent employees the NMB must continue to require a majority vote of all employees.

More importantly, this attempt by the NMB to rewrite labor laws outside of the board’s statutory authority demonstrates yet another attempt by the Obama Administration to circumvent Congress as the policymaking branch of government. The NAM’s letter to the Senate makes the case:

The Senate should disapprove this rule by supporting S.J.RES. 30, as it would harm positive employee relations and sets a disturbing precedent for other federal labor boards like the National Labor Relations Board. More importantly, we believe the NMB is circumventing the proper role of Congress in setting our nation’s labor laws on a level playing field to protect the rights of those who wish to be represented by a labor union and those who do not.

As manufacturers face tremendous amounts of uncertainty in these challenging economic times, Congress should not allow a federal agency to issue regulations that harm manufacturers’ ability to create and retain jobs.

Such policy changes require legislation and can only be enacted by Congress. As the Senate prepares to consider this resolution we urge all Senators vote for S.J.RES.30 to stop attempts by Executive Agencies to enact elements of labor leaders’ agenda by fiat.

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Reaffirming Congress’ Policy Role, Rejecting EPA Endangerment

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) this afternoon spoke on the Senate floor to announce her intention to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding through legislation. From her news release, “Murkowski Seeks to Halt EPA Endangerment of U.S. Economy”:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today announced her intention to file a disapproval resolution to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Murkowski’s resolution comes in the wake of the agency’s recent endangerment finding, which will result in damaging new regulations that endanger America’s economy.

“I remain committed to reducing emissions through a policy that will protect our environment and strengthen our economy, but EPA’s backdoor climate regulations achieve neither of those goals,” Murkowski said. “EPA regulation must be taken off the table so that we can focus on more responsible approaches to dealing with global climate change.”

While the administration claims the endangerment finding is merely an affirmation of the science behind global climate change, Murkowski said that aspect is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The EPA administrator’s move has thrown open the door to expensive and intrusive government regulation – as far from a market-based solution as we can possibly imagine,” Murkowski said. “The endangerment finding is aptly named. It endangers jobs, it endangers economic growth, and it endangers American competitiveness, while setting the stage for backdoor bureaucratic intrusion into the lives of Americans on an unprecedented scale.

The Congressional Review Act allows the filing of a resolution of disapproval to executive branch regulations. It has been used once before, in 2001 to reverse President Clinton’s last-minute issuance of workplace ergonomics standards. Once Murkowski files the resolution, it will go to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and if not acted upon, can be discharged if 30 Senators sign a petition. A disapproval resolution cannot be filibustered.

This is an issue that should unite Republicans and Democrats alike: The Executive Branch has ignored Congress’ constitutional authority to make policy, and is through a regulatory power grab attempting to control huge portions of the economy — and people’s lives — by limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

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