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President Obama March 26 signed into law a continuing appropriations resolution that will fund the Department of Labor (DOL), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for the second half of fiscal year 2013, but that also maintains restrictions on actions by DOL. The March 26 budget upholds the overall funding level of $984 billion contained in the resolution that funded the agencies for the first half of 2013. 

Funding for the NLRB will stay the same at $278 million and DOL will again receive $14.5 billion. The EEOC received a slight increase with $370 million approved for the second half of 2013, compared to $360 million. In addition, the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification program got a slight increase to $111.9 million from $102.4 million in fiscal year 2012. 

Like the last round of funding, the March 26 resolution also restricts the DOL from using any of the approved funds to implement a final rule issued in January 2011 that would have replaced the current methodology for establishing wage rates for H-2B temporary workers with a system emphasizing Davis-Bacon Act wage determinations. In response, DOL is expected to postpone the March 27 effective date. ABC continues to oppose the rule’s implementation due to its substantial cost, as well as the unscientific methodology used by DOL’s Wage and Hour division to establish Davis-Bacon Act rates that often inflate local wages. 

In addition, the resolution prohibits DOL from pursuing its proposal on MSDs during the remainder of fiscal year 2013. Under the proposed rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300 would have been revised to include an additional reporting column for MSDs. ABC opposed the change due to the vague and subjective definition of what would constitute an MSD, in addition to the hardships it would impose on businesses. OSHA temporarily withdrew the proposal in January 2011 to gather more feedback from small businesses.