Senate Republicans eye repeal of Obama-era 'blacklisting rule'

Senate Republicans eye repeal of Obama-era 'blacklisting rule'

The Senate is moving forward with a plan to strike down a controversial Obama-era labor regulation.

The GOP-controlled Senate will vote Monday on whether to repeal the Labor Department’s so-called blacklisting rule through the Congressional Review Act, which gives Republicans the power to overturn certain Obama-era regulations without any Democratic support.

The blacklisting rule requires federal contractors to disclose labor violations committed or alleged in the last three years for bidding on contracts over $500,000. 

Proponents say it will help the federal government avoid doing business with companies that treat their employees poorly. But critics argue it could subject these companies to unfair pressure from unions.

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“Because of the substance of this rule, it has become known as the blacklisting rule,” Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Sen. Cassidy plans to bring down Medicaid Senate committee schedules hearing on health care block grants MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday on the floor. “Had it been up to me, I would have called it the blackmailing rule.”

Johnson is one of the top senators on regulatory issues. The chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee introduced a disapproval resolution against the blacklisting rule under the Congressional Review Act.

“This regulation would be used as a form of federally sanctioned blackmail,” Johnson said.

It has “the very real potential of subjecting perfectly innocent contractors to blackmail and extortion tactics during union contract negotiations,” he added.

But then-Labor Secretary Tom Perez defended the blacklisting rule when his agency issued it last August. “Contractors that illegally cut corners at the expense of their workers should not benefit from taxpayer-funded federal contracts,” said Perez, who recently became the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The House already voted to eliminate the blacklisting rule. If the Senate follows suit Monday, it would go to President Trump’s desk for final approval.

This could put Trump between a rock and a hard place: The president has called for regulatory reform in Washington, but the working-class voters who helped elect Trump could see this as a betrayal if he sides with federal contractors over their employees.