GOP argues Obama labor official hiding jobs losses from sequester

House Republicans say Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is trying to hide the number of job losses that will be caused by spending cuts triggered by the sequester. 

They are demanding that she provide more information about guidance her department issued in August that says federal contractors are not obligated to give employees advance notice about layoffs that could occur because of automatic spending cuts triggered by last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling and reduce spending.

"The Labor Department is trying to hide the consequences of sequestration from workers," House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) said on Monday. "The department's refusal to answer our questions regarding its controversial guidance and how it will affect families and businesses across the country is just the latest in a disturbing pattern of congressional obstruction.

"With thousands of jobs on the line, Secretary Solis has an obligation to provide Congress this information without further delay."

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Kline asked Solis in early August for all documents and information related to the Labor Department guidance. That guidance says federal contractors have no obligation under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act to give employees advance notice about possible layoffs that could occur if the sequester goes into effect. 

The automatic spending cuts to both defense and domestic spending, set to into effect in January if Congress does not act to reverse them, are a result of Congress's failure earlier in the year to reach an agreement on a deficit-reduction plan.

On Aug. 2, Kline asked Solis for all information related to what he has called the "misleading and incomplete guidance" and its development. He also asked that this information be provided by Aug. 16, but since this deadline has come and gone, Kline wrote her again Monday to renew his request, and asked that she send the information by Oct. 1.

"Despite numerous attempts to ascertain the timing and delivery of your response, we have yet to receive any of the requested material or an adequate explanation for the lack thereof," Kline's letter said.

Kline also made a point of saying that the failure to provide the information is making it difficult for Congress to do its job.

"To fulfill our legislative and oversight responsibilities, pursuant to Article I of the Constitution and Rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, we must receive in timely fashion requested information concerning laws and matters within the committee's jurisdiction," the letter said.