Congress Boots “Blacklisting” Regulation and Sends it to President’s Desk

Congress Capitol blacklistingOn March 6, 2017, on a narrow straight party line vote of 49–48, the U.S. Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) Joint Resolution of Disapproval, which moots Executive Order (EO) 13673, “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces“—also referred to as government contractor “blacklisting”— and which revoked its implementing regulations and Labor Department guidance. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the joint resolution, H.J. Res. 37 on February 2, 2017. The next step is to send the Joint Resolution of Disapproval to the president for signature.

If signed by the president, the CRA Joint Resolution of Disapproval prohibits the future re-issuance of a federal regulation in the same or substantially similar form without authorization of Congress.

President Obama signed EO 13673 on July 31, 2014, and implementing regulations were issued in final on August 24, 2016. The EO and its implementing regulations would require federal contractors and subcontractors to notify federal contracting officers of violations and “administrative merits determinations” of 14 federal labor and employment laws, and their state equivalents, including wage and hour, discrimination, union organizing, and collective bargaining, and workplace safety and health laws.

Key Takeaways

The resolution of disapproval does not repeal the executive order; it only disapproves of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (published at 81 Fed. Reg. 58562) to implement the EO, which the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) finalized on August 25, 2016. Nevertheless, the joint resolution has the effect of essentially repealing the EO or rendering it moot. President Trump is expected to revoke the EO in a separate action

In addition, the resolution will prohibit the paycheck transparency provision of the EO from being implemented. (A district court temporarily enjoined the other provision of the EO; the joint resolution also renders this injunction moot.)

This resolution of disapproval should relieve government contractors of having to implement the provisions requiring them to disclose labor law violations and revamp their payroll systems to meet the requirements of the EO’s paycheck transparency provisions. Not only would we expect the president to sign the resolution, but we also anticipate, at some point, that Executive Order 13673 will be rescinded and that the Labor Department will withdraw its guidance.

© 2017, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.

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