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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R. 2685) June 11 without an ABC-opposed provision that would unfairly harm federal contractors and increase costs to taxpayers and the federal government.

The problematic language, offered on the House floor via an amendment to the DoD Appropriations bill by Congressional Progressive Caucus member Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), would have effectively prevented federal contractors with a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violation in the past five years from being awarded federal contracts funded by these appropriations bills. According to a letter ABC sent to House lawmakers June 11, ABC and “The federal contracting community across all industries is opposed to this amendment because it is a job killer, it will increase costs to taxpayers by reducing competition, and such a draconian change in longstanding federal contracting rules will irreparably harm good companies attempting to comply with a complicated law.”
The amendment was rejected on a bi-partisan basis (242-197, Roll no. 354).

In contrast, more than 25 Republicans supported this amendment when it was adopted 212-204 last year on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 4870) by an amendment offered by Rep Ellison. However, the Ellison amendment language failed to become law in the 113th Congress because it was removed in conference.

The House rejected by wide bi-partisan margins similar floor amendments offered Rep. Ellison and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) to four appropriations bills previously passed by the House in the 114th Congress.

These results suggest the federal contracting community has organized a successful campaign educating lawmakers about the federal acquisition process and related complex labor laws.

Despite the unsuccessful efforts, Rep. Ellison and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are expected to continue offering similar amendments on future appropriations bills.