U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the introduction of S. 808, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015. The STB is the...
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today approved the bipartisan Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act
GSA Chief Issues the Statement on New Executive Order on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Other Sustainability Issues
Congress recently took action to block the administration’s radical ambush election rule, which undercuts employees’ ability to make informed decisions in union elections while jeopardizing the privacy of workers and their families. Press reports highlight the ambush rule’s unprecedented changes and Republican efforts to stop it:
[The ambush election rule] represents one of the biggest procedural changes in decades to the federal union-organizing process. – Wall Street Journal
[The] rule, which was finalized in December, shortens the length of time in which a labor union certification election is held from the current median of 38 days to as little as 11 days. – The Daily Caller
“The ambush election rule the NLRB finalized last year will deny workers the opportunity to gather all the information they need before deciding whether to join a union,” [House Speaker] Boehner said. “What’s worse, the rule will make all of their personal information — addresses, work schedules, email, phone numbers — available to union bosses without their consent, putting them at risk for harassment and identity theft.” – Washington Times
"Joining a union is a big choice," said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) on the House floor Thursday. "But to make an informed decision, workers need time to decide what's best for them and their family, and they shouldn't be pressured or rushed." – Los Angeles Times
“This is like March Madness,” Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), one of the sponsors of the bill, told The Hill. “We expect referees to be fair in the games we play, but the NLRB is not fair." – The Hill
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce … said the rules would "stack the deck against employers" and "virtually eliminate employers' opportunities to communicate their views, stifling a full and robust debate among employees about unionization." – Washington Post
“Congress voted to stop an unelected board of bureaucrats from trampling on the rights of America’s workers and job creators,” Rep. John Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, declared after the vote. “The board’s ambush election rule will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families.” – The Daily Caller
Republicans will continue to fight for the rights of workers and their families. As Chairman Kline noted after debate, “The House and Senate have firmly rejected this radical scheme. I urge the president to put away his veto pen, and stand with workers and employers by supporting this important resolution.”
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Chabot Introduces Small Business Contracting Reform Bill
Incorporates solutions from New Committee Members
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced H.R. 1481, the Small Contractors Improve Competition Act.
This bill is the result of a series of hearings examining small business contracting policies, including two Subcommittee hearings this 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.
In the last four years, the number of small businesses participating in federal procurement has fallen by over100,000 companies and the number of contract actions being awarded to small businesses has fallen by nearly 60 percent. This reduced competition ultimately increases the cost of goods and services for the federal government and diminishes the vibrancy of the industrial base, which threatens national security.
“Having a healthy small business industrial base means that taxpayers benefit from increased competition, innovation, and job creation,” said Chairman Chabot. “It also means that we can support programs crucial to our national defense. Small business contracting policies are intended to make sure we have a broad spectrum of small firms working with the government across industries, and when those policies are undermined, it is imperative that we find appropriate solutions. These commonsense reforms move us in the right direction.”
H.R. 1481 would make a series of improvements to small business contracting policies to promote increased competition, a healthier industrial base, and more cost-effective federal procurement process. The bill incorporates a number of legislative proposals introduced by Small Business Committee Members, including:
In fiscal year 2013, small businesses won nearly $100 billion in federal prime contracts and nearly $90 billion in federal subcontracts. This is roughly half of the dollars spent by the federal government in contracts, so increasing competition and reducing inefficiencies in the procurement process through small business contracting reform is critical to saving taxpayer money.
The Committee has received testimony supporting provisions of the bill from Associated General Contractors, American Council of Engineering Companies, Mechanical Contractors Association, Women in Public Policy, Veterans Entrepreneurship Task Force, the American Legion and the Professional Services Council. The bill has also been endorsed by the National Defense Industrial Association.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following statements after the House passed S. J. Res. 8, a resolution that will block an ambush election rule finalized by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
“Today, Congress voted to stop an unelected board of bureaucrats from trampling on the rights of America’s workers and job creators,” said Chairman Kline. “The board’s ambush election rule will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. The House and Senate have firmly rejected this radical scheme. I urge the president to put away his veto pen, and stand with workers and employers by supporting this important resolution.”
“For far too long,” said Rep. Roe, “we’ve seen the Obama administration’s activist NLRB — which should ensure fair and transparent union elections — put the interests of labor unions before those of job creators and American workers. This latest rule is nothing more than an attempt to speed up union elections, violating the rights of workers to make an informed decision and employers to communicate openly with their employees during a union organizing campaign. As I’ve said before, this isn’t about whether you are pro or anti-union — the purpose of this resolution is to stop the NLRB from moving forward with policies that will effectively cripple the rights of workers.”
BACKGROUND: In December 2014, the National Labor Relations Board finalized new rules that significantly alter union elections. As a result of the board’s sweeping changes to policies that have been in place for decades, the right of employers to speak to employees will be stifled, the right of workers to make informed decision in union elections will be undermined, and the privacy of workers and their families will be compromised. In response, leaders in the House and Senate introduced a resolution (H. J. Res. 29/S. J. Res. 8) under the Congressional Review Act to block the board’s ambush election rule. The resolution will:
- Stop the NLRB from rewriting union election policies that have served workers, employers, and unions well for decades;
- Ensure employers can continue to communicate with their employees before they cast their ballots;
- Preserve the right of workers to make informed decisions about whether to join a union; and
- Safeguard the privacy rights of workers and their families.
The House passed the resolution by a vote of 232 to 186. Following today’s action by the House and earlier action by the Senate, the resolution will now go to the president. To learn more about S. J. Res 8/H. J. Res. 29, click here.
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U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing on Thursday, March 19, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. entitled “Examining the Evolving Cyber Insurance Marketplace.” The hearing will explore the growing cybersecurity risk insurance market and hear from experts about coverage, challenges, and opportunities in the industry and the impact on cybersecurity.
The Committee’s cybersecurity activity this Congress began with two hearings last month. The first
Contracting and the Industrial Base Part III: Reverse Auctions, Verification and The SBA's Role in Rulemaking
On, March 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m., the Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will hold a hearing titled, Contracting and the Industrial Base Part III: Reverse Auctions, Verification and the SBA's Role in Rulemaking. The hearing will be webstreamed live HERE.
The purpose of the hearing is to examine issues related to reverse auctions, The Small Business Administration's (SBA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contracting programs for service-disabled veteran owned small business and the enforcement and implementation of its statutory functions.
Richard Hanna (R-NY)
- Mr. Daniel I. Gordon, Senior Advisor, Government Procurement Law Program, The George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC
- Ms. Amber Peebles, President, Athena Construction Group, Inc. Dumfries, VA
- Testifying on behalf of Women Impacting Public Policy
- Mr. Davy Leghorn, Assistant Director, National Veterans Employment and Education Division, The American Legion, Washington, DC
- Ms. Margot Dorfman, CEO, United States Women's Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC
Small Business Subcommittee Continues Examination of Contracting Issues
WASHINGTON - Today, the Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, led by Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY), examined small business contracting policies, with a particular focus on the improper use of reverse auctions, inconsistencies with service-disabled veteran owned small business programs, and the SBA’s delayed implementation of Congressional reforms.
“This hearing provided a valuable opportunity to discuss issues important to small businesses and veterans – two key drivers of our nation’s success,” Subcommittee Chairman Hanna said. “When contracting programs are overly burdensome, rules are inconsistent, and the implementation of Congressional reforms are seriously delayed, it creates confusion. Uncertainty holds small businesses back from growing and creating jobs. I look forward to working with Chairman Chabot and my colleagues to improve the federal contracting process for small businesses and our veterans.”
Witnesses raised serious concerns about the SBA’s 5-year delay of implementation of small business contracting reforms. Amy Peebles, a Marine Corps Veteran running a service-disabled veteran owned small business described her frustration with the matter: “…the delay in implementation of important small business contracting provisions is an ongoing frustration of women business owners… [This delay] is simply unfair to the businesses burdened by outdated, ineffective, or damaging policies Congress saw fit to change.”
In addition, witnesses spoke to issues they have with the Department of Veteran Affairs verification process for determining the status of a service-disabled veteran-owned small business. One witness, testifying on behalf of the American legion described it as “overly burdensome” and urged lawmakers and regulators to “[strike] the appropriate balance” between government oversight necessary to combat fraud and the amount of oversight necessary to protect the integrity of the program.
Testimony also shed light on the fact that the improper use of reverse auctions by agencies is having a detrimental impact on the purposes of using this type of bidding process, which are namely to spur competition and save tax dollars.
“The American Legion appreciates the goal of the government contracting community to lower federal expenditure through competitive contracting initiatives, but we are concerned that misuse of non-governmental platforms that have not suffered the scrutiny of the appropriations process, are putting veteran owned small businesses at risk and could also be serving to undermine the entire procurement process.”
-Mr. Davy Leghorn, Assistant Director, National Veterans Employment and Education Division, The American Legion
“In my opinion, any competition for a government contract, whether run electronically or “the old fashioned way,” that gets only one bid should be considered a failure. If the government is paying a fee to use an electronic reverse auction and only one bid is received, the government is paying a fee for that failed procurement.”
-Mr. Daniel I. Gordon, Senior Advisor, Government Procurement Law Program, The George Washington University Law School
“WIPP has two recommendations with regards to the timeline of SBA rule promulgation and FAR adoption. In our view, there is no reason these cannot be done concurrently. Any diversions between the proposed rules could be best addressed through increased cooperation between SBA and the FAR Council. One solution could be adding SBA to the FAR Council. WIPP supports this option because it would also give small businesses an advocate on the Council charged with maintaining acquisition procedures.”
–Ms. Amber Peebles, President, Athena Construction Group, Inc.
In just a few short weeks, a regulatory scheme that many Americans never heard of will become a reality in almost every private workplace across the country.
Today, workers and employers rely on a fair process for union elections. Under the current process, employers have time to raise concerns, and more importantly, time to speak with their employees about union representation. Under the current system, workers have an opportunity to gather the information they need to make the best decision for their families.
But unless Congress acts, that will all change. Under the guise of streamlining union elections, the National Labor Relations Board is imposing draconian changes that will undermine the rights workers, employers, and unions have long enjoyed.
The board’s rule arbitrarily limits the amount of time employers have to legally prepare for the election, and it denies workers a reasonable opportunity to make informed decisions about joining a union. The rule also delays answers to important questions – including voter eligibility – until after the election, which means the integrity of the election results will be compromised before a single ballot is cast.
To add insult to injury, the board’s rule will also force employers to provide union organizers with their employees’ personal information, including email addresses, phone numbers, work schedules, and home addresses. Instead of advancing a plan to help stop union intimidation and coercion, the board is actually making it easier for labor bosses to harass employees and their families.
Are there times when delays occur under the current system? Of course, but delay is the exception, not the rule. In fact, right now the median time between the filing of an election petition and the election is 38 days. Yet under the board’s new rule, a union election could take place in as little as 11 days. Eleven days.
This is a radical rewrite of labor policies that have served our nation’s best interests for decades. Unfortunately, this is what we’ve come to expect from the National Labor Relations Board.
Let’s not forget, this is the same federal agency that tried dictating where a private employer had to run its business. This is the same agency restricting workers’ right to secret ballot election. This is the same agency ignoring the law by asserting its jurisdiction over religious institutions. This is the same agency tying employers in union red tape and empowering labor leaders to gerrymander our nation’s workplaces.
This is a federal agency that is simply out of control, and it is our responsibility to do something about it. This resolution, which I am proud to sponsor along with Senator Lamar Alexander, invokes Congress’s authority under the Congressional Review Act to block the NLRB’s ambush election rule and anything substantially like it.
If the board or my Democrat colleagues want to pursue responsible reforms to improve the union election process, then I stand ready to work together on that effort.
But if you believe employers should be free to speak to their employees during a union organizing campaign, then support this resolution.
If you believe workers should be free to make an informed decision about whether to join a union, then support this resolution.
If you believe we should protect rather than threaten employee privacy, then support this resolution.
Finally, if you believe workers, employers, and union leaders deserve a fair election process, then reject the board’s ambush election rule by supporting this resolution.
I encourage my colleagues to stand with America’s workers and job creators by voting “yes” on S. J. Res. 8.
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Update: Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Lawyer’s Request to Remove Justice from $11 Billion Case
On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at 11:00 A.M., the Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled, Tangled in Red Tape: New Challenges for Small Manufacturers. The hearing will be held in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The purpose of the hearing is to examine the effects of regulations on small manufacturers.
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Witnesses and Testimony:
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, entitled, “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.”
As part of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities, the hearing will have a broad scope covering every aspect of the agency, from its Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to major policy issues before the Commission. This will be the Committee’s first public opportunity to directly question the Commission about its controversial Ope...
"Never-Ending Wave," "Tragic," "Disadvantage:" Small Manufacturers Describe Regulatory Burden in Small Business Committee Hearing
"Never-Ending Wave," "Tragic," "Disadvantage:" Small Manufacturers Describe Regulatory Burden in Small Business Committee Hearing
WASHINGTON—In today’s Small Business Committee hearing, “Tangled in Red Tape: New Challenges for Small Manufacturers,” real American small business employees told Committee members how excessive federal regulations burden small manufacturers.
Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) started the hearing by showing attendees the stack of federal regulations from February 2015. “These are regulations that came out of the federal government in the last month alone,” Chabot explained. “How can we expect our small businesses to focus on creating jobs and bringing new ideas to life when, odds are, something in these pages will have an impact on them? And even worse, they likely had no input at all in what those regulations say.”
“We are not a large corporation with a plethora of resources to redirect towards the review, testing and compliance of new rules,” said Viktor Anderson of Structural Concepts in Muskegon, Michigan, a maker of commercial refrigerators. “With its never-ending wave of new rules and ever-more-stringent standards, the Administration is threatening our ability to do business and provide critical products to American consumers.”
Janis Herschkowitz of PRL, Inc. in Cornwall, Pennsylvania, whose foundry makes parts for nuclear submarines, had a similar message. “The fact is there are very few foundries remaining in the U.S. who are able to meet the high specifications standards required by our nation’s military.” Herschkowitz went on to tell the Committee that “the bulk of the regulations would hit our small foundry the hardest, and to put it bluntly as a small business owner we would need to determine if it is even worth the cost of compliance. This is tragic.”
Cynthia Reichard of Arylessence, a fragrance manufacturer in Marietta, Georgia, told the Committee about the ways regulations are impacting her company’s growth plans, adding, “U.S. manufacturers simply need an environment conducive to growing and creating jobs. We need economic stability, certainty, predictability and common-sense regulations that don’t unfairly disadvantage small firms.”
Chairman Chabot expressed his appreciation to the witnesses for taking valuable time away from their workplaces to share their stories with the Committee. “You’re not the bad guys,” Chairman Chabot told the witnesses. “If we want to remain a global economic leader, we have to modernize. We have to make the small businesses that provide livelihoods for about half of all American families a part of the solution, not the biggest loser in an economy that desperately needs them to succeed,” Chabot said.
One solution discussed in the hearing was the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which passed the House earlier this year. Learn more about the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act here.
Full testimony and footage from the hearing can be viewed here.
Kline Statement: Hearing on "Reviewing the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal for the Department of Labor"
The American people have been through a lot since the recession began more than seven years ago. Millions of jobs destroyed. Household incomes plummeted. Hard-earned savings wiped out. Hopes and dreams shattered. We all welcome the progress seen in recent months, but make no mistake, we still have a long way to go before every American is able to get back on a path to a lifetime of success.
Right now, roughly 15 million workers are in desperate need of full-time jobs, and that does not include the millions of individuals so discouraged by meager job prospects that they have simply dropped out of the workforce. Meanwhile, working families face high health care costs and stagnant wages, and they are struggling to send their kids to college and plan for retirement.
As policymakers, we have an obligation to these men and women to do better. They are not willing to accept a new normal of anemic growth and flat incomes. Neither should we, yet that is precisely what the president’s budget would force us to do. As is often said, a budget reflects priorities, and it is clear the president’s priorities continue to be more spending, more taxes, and more debt.
The facts speak for themselves. The president’s budget includes $547 billion in new spending and a $1.8 trillion tax increase. Despite taking more money from hard-working Americans, the president’s budget never balances. In fact, over the next 10 years, it would add $6.7 trillion to the national debt. This is not a roadmap leading to a stronger middle-class, but a blueprint for more government at the expense of the middle-class.
This flawed approach is reflected in the president’s budget for the Department of Labor. The administration is requesting an 11 percent increase in discretionary spending for the department and an astounding $41.5 billion in new mandatory spending. Will these additional taxpayer dollars be spent reducing regulatory burdens, streamlining the bureaucracy, and encouraging better enforcement of federal laws? Not likely.
Instead, the new money will be spent imposing more rules on more Americans, including workers employed by federal contractors, the elderly and those with disabilities who rely on in-home companion care, and men and women who need help saving for retirement. It will also be spent creating new programs and layers of bureaucracy.
For example, we recently passed bipartisan legislation streamlining the workforce investment system, and already the president is demanding five new workforce development programs. Congress made it easier for job seekers to acquire new skills and get back to work, yet the president is determined to make a maze of programs more complex and confusing.
The president’s budget is one of misplaced priorities and missed opportunities. We can invest in policies and programs that will make a real difference in the lives of countless Americans, without growing the size, cost, and reach of the federal government. Middle-class families are being squeezed, and the last thing we should do is double-down on failed policies.
We can do better and we know how to do better. Last year, Republicans and Democrats came together to enact meaningful job training legislation that will put Americans back to work, and we passed important reforms to strengthen the financial security of workers and retirees in the multiemployer pension system. Secretary Perez, thank you for your support as Congress worked on these bipartisan efforts.
It is time to find other areas of agreement, like modernizing an outdated multiemployer pension system, simplifying the regulations surrounding federal wage and hour law, and opening new markets for American-made goods. Let’s ensure the people’s priorities are our priorities by rejecting the president’s budget and embracing pro-growth reforms that help every American enjoy a lifetime of opportunity and success.
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The hearing examined contracting issues in the industrial base as it relates to bundling, consolidation and strategic sourcing, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) goaling processes and the jurisdiction and operation of the SBA's office of Hearings and Appeals.
Opening Statement:Chairman Richard Hanna ( R-NY)
Witnesses and Testimony: