Republican leaders of three congressional committees sent a letter July 15 to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council and other Obama administration officials, requesting that the proposed guidance and regulations for the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673 (known as the Blacklisting EO) be withdrawn. This letter was sent a few days after the DOL and the FAR Council announced a two-week extension
of the notice and comment period for the blacklisting proposal to Aug. 11.
The letter says the blacklisting proposal will “delay an already cumbersome federal procurement process and will impose additional costs on employers, federal agencies and American taxpayers.” Lawmakers contend that the justification for the proposed guidance and regulations are based upon research “lacking empirical evidence” and fail to acknowledge the government’s own failure to utilize its existing regulations to combat irresponsible contractors. The letter highlights the existing suspension and debarment system the DOL has not used in several years.
Lawmakers also addressed the impropriety of having a notice and comment period for incomplete guidance and regulations, as the proposed guidance and regulations addressing the equivalent state law violations of the 14 federal workplace laws covered by the current proposal will come at a later, undetermined date. Congressmen believe that “all comments submitted prior to the publication of those proposals will lack complete information on which to provide comment.”
Finally, the letter discusses the impact the proposal will have on federal contractors. They fear the proposal will force smaller businesses to simply “drop out of the competition” as federal contractors “will have to develop and maintain costly systems to comply with these new burdens – raising the price of contracts – even if they have no violations to report.”
If DOL and the FAR are unwilling to withdraw the proposed guidance and regulations, the letter requests that they at least extend the notice and comment period for an additional 90 days by July 29, 2015, “to ensure that interested parties have adequate time to review, assess and provide meaningful input.”
The letter was signed by:
- Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.);
- Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah);
- Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio);
- Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.);
- Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.);
- Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio);
- Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.); and
- Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations Subcommittee Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.).
To read the full letter, click here.
For more information about ABC’s fight against the blacklisting proposal, visit www.abc.org/blacklisting