House Committee Chairmen Call for Withdrawal of Administration’s Harmful, Unnecessary Blacklisting Proposal

Published: Jul 15, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican leaders of three congressional committees today wrote to the Department of Labor and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to call for the withdrawal of the administration’s proposed blacklisting guidance and regulation. Expressing concern over the anticipated harmful consequences of the proposal, leaders on the Education and the Workforce Committee, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Small Business Committee explain:

The proposed guidance and rule institute new burdensome and unnecessary requirements that will delay an already cumbersome federal procurement process and will impose additional costs on employers, federal agencies, and American taxpayers.

In 2014, President Obama issued an executive order to require contractors and subcontractors to disclose potential violations of 14 federal labor laws and equivalent state laws from the preceding three years. On May 28, 2015, the Department of Labor and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council issued proposed guidance and a draft regulation intended to implement the executive order.

While the chairmen note in their letter that “bad actors denying workers basic protections should not be rewarded with government contracts funded by taxpayer dollars,” they assert current laws already provide the tools necessary to hold them accountable. As the members write:

We do not see the need to implement measures through executive fiat to fix a problem that simply does not exist.  Rather than implement another layer of bureaucracy, the Administration should work with Congress and stakeholders to use the existing system to crack down on bad actors and ensure the rights of America’s workers are protected.

Furthermore, the committee leaders write that agencies must have a strong basis for implementing regulations, especially when they “threaten due process, impose onerous reporting burdens, and limit competition by favoring certain competitors while blacklisting others, resulting in significant job losses.” According to the chairmen, the proposed rule and guidance rely on biased reports lacking objective empirical evidence in order to impose this “new and burdensome”reporting requirement.

If the proposed guidance and rule are not withdrawn, the chairmen ask that the administration extend the public comment period by 90 days to “ensure that interested parties have adequate time to review, assess, and provide meaningful input.” The current period, they argue, does not provide stakeholders enough time to “effectively evaluate the full ramifications of the proposals.”

The letter was signed by:

  • Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN);
  • Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT);
  • Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH); Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN);
  • Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI);
  • Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH);
  • Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY); and
  • Investigations, Oversight and Regulations Subcommittee Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-NV).

The full letter is available here.