The Dec. 9 spending bill released by the House omitted the controversial and ABC-opposed language supported by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that would have increased costs to taxpayers by reducing competition from qualified federal contractors. If it had passed as a part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83), also known as the CRomnibus, the language would have prohibited any funds from being used to enter into a contract with any company that discloses a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) within the last five years through the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

ABC and a coalition of groups representing the federal contracting community across all industries opposed the language, which had been adopted via amendments offered on four appropriations bills earlier this year by Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). The coalition argued that the debarment of federal contractors that have an FLSA violation changes longstanding federal contracting rules and is a job killer for workers employed at firms fulfilling federal contracts. 

“The needlessly complex FLSA trips up a lot of well-intentioned employers trying to follow the law, including federal agencies,” said ABC Government Affairs Vice President Geoff Burr, “This draconian measure that gives federal contractors the death penalty for even a minor FLSA violation would have caused long-term harm to the government, taxpayers, employees and contractors by disrupting the economy and destabilizing the ability of the government to meet the nation’s security, infrastructure and health care needs.”

Congress is expected to take action on the bill later this week.

Despite this victory, federal contractors should still be on the lookout for forthcoming regulations implementing President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673, commonly known as the blacklisting executive order. The order instructs bureaucrats at federal agencies to determine whether a business is “responsible” enough to receive a federal contract based on a subjective review of each company’s recent compliance history with labor and safety laws. Regulations implementing this order have not been proposed, but federal agency rulemaking is underway and there will be significant regulatory action and attention on this issue hot button issue in 2015.