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The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R. 2578) June 3 and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal year 2016 (H.R. 2577) June 9 without ABC-opposed amendments that would unfairly harm federal contractors and increase costs to taxpayers and the federal government.

The amendments, offered on the House floor to both bills 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 3, 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.”

Both amendments failed on a bi-partisan basis by large margins (244-184, Roll no. 281, 6/3/15 and 243-182, Roll no. 324, 6/9/15).

A similar amendment offered in April 2015 by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (H.R. 2029) was also soundly defeated 237-186. In contrast, more than 25 Republicans supported this amendment when it was adopted 212-204 last year on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 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.

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.