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Legislators Seek to Stop 'Blacklist' Rule

Thursday, February 9, 2017

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Some members of Congress are working on a strategy to roll back a pending rule that would subject federal contractors to increased scrutiny regarding past labor and safety violations.

Originally issued in July 2014 and amended in August 2016, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule was scheduled to go into effect Oct. 25, 2016, implementing President Barack Obama's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Refugio Carrillo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The so-called "Blacklist Rule" requires businesses seeking federal contracts of over $500,000 to disclose not only civil and administrative proceedings against them, but also violations of any of 14 listed workplace protections in the past three years.

The month the rule was set to go into effect, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the provisions.

The rule requires businesses seeking federal contracts of over $500,000 to disclose not only civil and administrative proceedings against them, but also violations of any of 14 listed workplace protections in the past three years.

A copy of the final rule is available here.

A Joint Resolution

While a legal challenge against the rule is still pending, members of Congress are employing a legislative strategy to try to make the controversial measure disappear.

The U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) introduced H.J. Res. 37 resolution last week.

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Opponents to the rule say the measures will disrupt the federal procurement process for projects.

The bill provides for congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to invalidate the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council and U.S. Department of Labor's "blacklisting" rule.

The joint resolution of disapproval now goes to the Senate for vote. Some experts say the rarely used legislative tool may be successful in this case, with President Donald J. Trump in the White House and Republicans currently in control of both houses of Congress.

For and Against

The Department of Labor holds that the new rule, which is supported by some labor organizations, ensures contractors who don’t follow the rules aren’t rewarded with federal contracts, and those who do are given a fair chance.

Opponents, however, fear that the rule “imposes a sweeping new regulatory scheme on federal contractors that will disrupt the federal procurement process, significantly increase red tape and costs for both government and industry, and serve as a barrier to entry to federal contracting for many businesses,” according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.

   

Tagged categories: Bidding; Building owners; Department of Labor; Government; Government contracts; Health and safety; Labor; Project Management; Public spaces

Comment from Tony Rangus, (2/9/2017, 11:59 AM)

Does anybody else see the last paragraph in the article as garbage. Think back some years when you tried to get any pending actions or litigations or censure etc. for medical professionals. The AMA blocked public access at every turn as did state medical boards. Accountability was really low on the radar screen. Same for Associated Builders and Contractors. They fear more regulation because one of their own doesn't give a damn about employee safety. If I was building a 500 million dollar project, I sure as hell would want to know if one or more of my subcontractors didn't give a damn about employee safety due to past citations & litigation. It seems all these contractor associations do nothing but whine.


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