Saturday, November 22, 2003


Way to go Arlen. I try to be bi-partisan, sticking my neck out in rare praise of a Republican who is standing up for working people by blocking the Administration's attempt to take overtime away from 8 million workers, and this is how you repay me?
Congress Drops Fight for Overtime Acceptance of New Labor Dept.

Rule Ends Spending Bill Stalemate

Congressional leaders last night handed President Bush a major victory by dropping objections to his plan to revamp the nation's overtime pay policies, even though many lawmakers say it will cost millions of workers overtime benefits.

A stalemate between the White House and lawmakers over the issue has held up passage of a $284 billion multi-agency spending bill needed to let Congress adjourn for the year. House leaders may seek passage of the spending measure as early as today.

Bush's proposed new Labor Department rules would redefine eligibility for overtime pay, typically time-and-a-half after 40 hours of work in one week. Workers earning more than $65,000 a year could be denied overtime pay if their employers categorized them as administrators, professionals or other exempt employees.

The administration says the changes would better reflect modern workplace realities, and make many low-income workers newly eligible for overtime pay.

The House last month had joined the Senate Appropriations Committee in opposing the administration's plan. It marked a significant victory for Democrats and labor leaders, and Bush threatened to veto the spending package unless the overtime language was removed.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) urged appropriators to heed the White House demand. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) encouraged the White House to compromise with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the labor, health, human services and education appropriations subcommittee.

Specter, who faces a tough reelection in his heavily unionized state, vowed to block passage of the spending bill unless it retains language barring the new overtime rules from taking effect. But after weeks of wrangling with Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao and other administration officials, Specter backed down yesterday.
That will teach me.

And while we're at it, maybe some of you Congessional experts can explain to enquiring readers how both houses of Congress can vote to deep-six pending regulations, and then it can be reversed by the the Conference Committee, which is supposed to reconcile differences between Senate and House versions of a bill.

Kind of makes you question one-party rule, doesn't it?