Chamber Opposes Amendment to Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill
September 3, 2003
To Members of the United States Senate:
On behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region, I strongly urge you to oppose a possible amendment to the Senate Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill which would effectively prohibit the Department of Labor from expending funds to proceed with its proposed rulemaking on "white-collar" regulations governing the use of overtime.
These proposed regulations were issued on March 31, 2003, and provided for the submission of comments by all interested parties through June 30, 2003. The Department is now in the process of reviewing those comments to determine whether a final regulation should be issued and, if so, what should be the nature and shape of that final rule.
The current regulations in this area have not been revised for over fifty years, fail to conform to the modern workplace, and are both vague and complex, engendering much uncertainty and litigation. Indeed, a September 1999 General Accounting Office report examining the regulations recommended that the Department "comprehensively review current regulations and restructure white-collar exemptions to better accommodate today's work place and to anticipate future work place trends." This is exactly what the Department is doing and Congress should allow the process to continue.
No one disputes that there are controversies raised by the Department's proposal. Indeed, the Chamber's own comments to the Department support some parts and are critical of others. This is exactly why Congress should not interfere in the regulatory process—the Labor Department should be able to weigh the comments of all parties under the well-established principles of the Administrative Procedure Act and decide how to proceed.
Due to the critical importance of this issue to the business community, the Chamber will include the votes on, or related to, the amendment as a Key Vote in our annual How They Voted rankings.
Thomas J. Donohue
President & CEO
U.S. Chamber of Commerce