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NAW News

Regulatory Agenda and Oversight

- January 2011

As we’ve noted in all our recent staff reports, the real threat facing business in the last two years has not been legislation, but regulation. The Obama Administration’s executive departments and agencies have moved aggressively to reverse the free market policies of the previous Administration, and to impose burdensome, costly and time consuming regulations on business at all levels and in all industries. The most egregious examples are OHSA, EBSA, W&D, OFCCP, FLSA, OLMS…the whole alphabet soup of regulatory agencies within the Department of Labor. But while Labor has been especially aggressive, they are joined by virtually all of the Federal Departments and agencies in promulgating new rules and regulations.

In response to the regulatory threat in the labor area, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace – the business coalition organized to oppose card check legislation which NAW helps manage – re-defined its mission to focus on the regulations which threaten employers’ ability to manage their own places of business. As part of that reorganization, the coalition suspended its communications and media effort and retained labor counsel to follow the regulatory agenda and coordinate the filing of comments and amicus briefs in response to agency rulemaking. NAW and many of our member associations have lent their names to briefs and comments, and we will continue to do so throughout the next Congress.

The list of proposed regulations is far too long for inclusion in these reports, but the Labor Department released its Fall Semiannual Agenda of Regulations in late December, which you can access here for a list of their almost-100 rulemakings. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain?operation=OPERATION_GET_AGENCY_RULE_LIST¤tPub=true&agencyCd=1200

Information on the regulations in the health care area can be found in that separate staff report.

Oversight:

The one serious obstacle to the Administration’s regulatory agenda comes as a direct result of Republicans recapturing the majority in the House of Representatives: the right and ability of the new GOP committee chairmen to conduct oversight of the federal departments and agencies.

And Speaker Boehner and his leadership team have promised to use that oversight authority thoroughly, thoughtfully and carefully. Specifically, the Speaker has said that the GOP chairman will not be pursuing “gotcha” oversight for the political purposes or to embarrass individuals, but will seek to ensure that the government agencies are spending the taxpayers’ money wisely and carefully.

A December 18th article in National Journal describes the GOP’s careful planning of their oversight efforts:

“House Republicans already have their battle plans drawn up. Boehner will coordinate all long-term committee oversight planning and strategy, deciding which issues to investigate, which committees to put in charge, and how to package oversight findings to build momentum for bills that Republicans want to pass. Incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor of VA will handle day-to-day management of all committees conducting oversight or developing legislation to repeal or excise certain parts of health care, financial reform, or the stimulus. According to senior House aids, Boehner and Cantor have ordered up a 24/7 war-room model where attacks on administration policy are developed by chosen committees, relayed to rank-and-file members (with high visibility roles envisaged for members of the hard-charging freshman class), and, eventually, coordinated with GOP governors.”

We will be working closely with the committee chairmen to assist in their review of overzealous regulators and, when appropriate, to support legislative efforts to deny funding for the implementation of objectionable regulations.