WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate last night, under unanimous consent, approved an amendment offered by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) stating the need for Congress to “protect the open Internet in a manner that provides clear and certain rules and does not jeopardize public safety, universal service, privacy, accessibility, consumer protection, competition, innovation, or investment.”
Thune, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, tonight issued the following statement on the amendment v...
The markup will consist of the following bills: H.R. 1481 " Small Contractors Improve Competition Act of 2015. It is possible that an amendment in the nature of a substitute or some other legislative vehicle will be provided Monday pursuant to the Committee's Rules.
Opening Statement:Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
The Supreme Court Should Not Abandon “Stare Decisis” in “Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises” Case Given Reliance Interest
Small Business Committee Passes Contracting Reform Bill
WASHINGTON – The Small Business Committee today passed legislation introduced by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) to ensure more small businesses can compete for federal contracts and help save taxpayer money.
H.R. 1481, the Small Contractors Improve Competition Act, makes a series of commonsense improvements to small business contracting policies to promote increased competition, a healthier industrial base, and a more cost-effective federal procurement process.
“We know that when small businesses compete for federal work, it creates jobs, improves the quality of work, and saves taxpayers’ money,” said Chabot. “This bill is a commonsense approach to make sure that Washington is working with Main Street – not locking it out of the procurement process altogether.”
The bill is the result of a series of hearings examining small business contracting policies, including a full committee hearing in February and two subcommittee hearings last week that further exposed how unjustified contract bundling, Administration policies devaluing small business subcontracting opportunities, and the improper use of reverse auctions are keeping small businesses from participating in the federal procurement process. It incorporates a number of proposals introduced by Small Business Committee Members, including:
The Committee has received testimony supporting provisions of the bill from the American Council of Engineering Companies, Mechanical Contractors Association, Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force, the American Legion, and the Professional Services Council.
The bill has also been endorsed by:
· The National Defense Industrial Association
· Mid-Tier Advocacy
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chair of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security will convene a hearing on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. entitled, “Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Performance, not Prescription.”
The second in a series of hearings on the reauthorization of highway safety programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction, this hearing will review performance-based regulations and performance-based management in transportation policy, especially in truck, hazardo...
Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Key Considerations Regarding Safety, Innovation, Economic Impact, and Privacy
Walberg Statement: Hearing on H.R. 548, "Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2015"; H.R. 549, "Litigation Oversight Act of 2015"; H.R. 550, "EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act"; and H.R. 1189, "Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act"
Today, the subcommittee will examine a number of legislative proposals intended to provide greater transparency and accountability to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I’d like to thank our witnesses for joining us. We have a distinguished panel to help us look at a number of complex and important issues.
All workers deserve strong protections against employment discrimination. Toward that end, there continues to be support for federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and others. There is no doubt that every member of the committee expects the fair and vigorous enforcement of these laws in our nation’s workplaces, and that is precisely why we are here today.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plays a vital role ensuring America’s workers are free to pursue employment without fear of discrimination based on their race, gender, disability, or religion. We need this agency to do its job effectively so that every American has a shot to succeed based on merit and hard work. Unfortunately, the enforcement and regulatory approach adopted by EEOC in recent years raises serious doubts about whether our nation’s best interests are being served.
For example, the commission has implemented controversial guidance on the use of criminal background checks that will make it more difficult for employers to protect their employees and customers. At a hearing held last Congress, the subcommittee received testimony from Ms. Lucia Bone, whose sister, Sue Weaver, was murdered by a man who months earlier had cleaned the air ducts in her home. A simple criminal background check might have saved this innocent woman’s life.
State and local policies requiring criminal background checks are intended to protect Americans who come in contact with workers in vulnerable situations, such as at home and in the classroom. As a result of EEOC’s misguided policy, more Americans will be put in
harm’s way, including women and children. The EEOC should scrap this misguided policy completely, but if it won’t, then Congress should take steps to rein it in and help provide families greater peace of mind the next time they invite a stranger into their home or child’s classroom.
Furthermore, EEOC has challenged employee wellness programs. Employers develop these innovative programs in order to improve the health of employees and their families, increase productivity, and reduce health care costs. Yet litigation pursued by the commission is actually discouraging employers from implementing these programs, even though Congress on a bipartisan basis has expressed its clear support for employee wellness programs.
Lastly, EEOC is spending more time and resources pursuing systemic or “class action” investigations, often without any allegation of wrongdoing. The commission has also been sanctioned in recent years for pursuing claims that are frivolous and without merit. This is how one federal circuit court described an EEOC enforcement action:
“EEOC brought this case on the basis of a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself.”
Meanwhile, a backlog of discrimination claims filed by individual workers continues to plague the commission. This is no way to run an agency with a mission as important as the EEOC’s and we must demand better. To help workers succeed in the workplace without fear of discrimination, Congress has a responsibility to hold the commission accountable for its regulatory and enforcement policies.
We will examine today a number of legislative proposals to help us do just that. Together, these proposals will instill greater transparency and accountability in EEOC, improve its enforcement activities, and help more workers and employers enjoy the benefits of employee wellness programs. I look forward to discussing in greater detail with our witnesses the positive reforms in these bills and hope they will receive strong, bipartisan support.
# # #
- The Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2015, introduced by Chairman Walberg, provides a safe harbor to employers complying with a federal or state law mandating they perform criminal background checks before hiring for certain jobs.
- The Litigation Oversight Act of 2015, introduced by Chairman Walberg, requires EEOC commissioners to approve or disapprove, by majority vote, EEOC-initiated litigation involving multiple plaintiffs or an allegation of systemic discrimination. It also gives individual commissioners the power to require the commission, by majority vote, to approve or disapprove any litigation.
- The EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act, introduced by Chairman Walberg, requires – among other provisions – the EEOC to post on its website and in its annual report any case in which EEOC was required to pay fees or costs, where a sanction was imposed against it by a court, and whether the cases were authorized by the commission or brought solely on the general counsel’s authority.
- The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN), clarifies that if an employer-sponsored wellness program’s financial incentives comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its regulations, then the program is also in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Tuesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to discuss the legislation and examine efforts to strengthen EEOC enforcement through enhanced transparency and accountability.
To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
# # #
Chabot Makes Second Request for Answers from HHS on Bad Obamacare Tax Information
WASHINGTON - Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) followed up with a second request for answers from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on the faulty tax information released to roughly 800,000 Americans at the height of tax season.
Chabot sent his original letter, seen here, on February 25, 2015, with five inquiries related to how this bad information impacted Americans receiving health coverage through the Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOPs). "I asked specific questions regarding this incident and requested a response by March 6, 2015," Chairman Chabot said. "It is now March 23, 2015, and I have yet to receive anything from your office."
In addition to the five questions Chabot originally asked, today's letter makes two further inquiries:
1. How many of these delayed 80,000 corrected forms will be sent or made available to small business owners who purchased insurance on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP)?
2. What effort is the Department making, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, to ensure that taxpayers will be able to file accurate and timely tax returns if they have received incorrect information concerning their health care coverage from HHS?
Today's follow-up comes on the fifth anniversary of the signing of Obamacare into law and amid continued reports of small business struggles caused by the law. Chabot requested a response to his inquiries by close of business this Friday, March 27, 2015.
ICYMI: Despite Birthday Celebrations, the Blistering Truth About Obamacare and Small Businesses
WASHINGTON - In the lead-up to the Obama administration's self-congratulatory celebration of the 5th anniversary of Obamacare today, national newspapers this weekend published a blistering account from the Associated Press of the law's crippling affect on American small businesses.
Highlights from the report:
“Complying with the health care law is costing small businesses thousands of dollars that they didn't have to spend before the new regulations went into effect.”
“Many small businesses don't have the human resources departments or computer systems that large companies have, making it harder to handle the paperwork."
“To pay for the extra services the business is getting from his broker, [small business manager Mike] Patton cut back on workers' bonuses and raises.”
“Complying with the law costs small businesses more than $15,000 a year.”
On his employees facing another year of no bonuses or raises: “They understand it didn't emanate from us," Patton says.
This report and the anniversary come just weeks after Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) requested answers from HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on the faulty tax information sent to more than 800,000 Americans and how this latest glitch impacts the Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOPs).