Overnight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule

Overnight Regulation: Trump's Labor nominee hints at updating overtime rule
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Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, courts and beyond. It's Wednesday evening here in Washington, where Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is probably wishing his Senate confirmation hearing will come to an end after his third straight day on Capitol Hill.

Here's the latest.

 

THE BIG STORY

President Trump's second choice to lead the Labor Department suggested at his confirmation hearing Wednesday that more employees should be paid for the overtime hours they work, "because life gets more expensive."

The remarks from Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta, a former Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), raised eyebrows from several Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel Republicans.

"The overtime rule hasn't been updated since 2004," Acosta said. "It's unfortunate that rules that involve dollar values can sometimes go more than a decade, sometimes 15 years, without being updated. Because life does get more expensive."

At issue is the Labor Department's overtime rule, which requires companies to pay time-and-a-half to low-income employees when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Currently, the overtime rule protects workers who make less than $23,660 per year. The Obama administration attempted to raise the salary threshold to $47,476, estimating it would lift more than 4 million workers out of poverty, but that move has been placed on hold by a federal judge.

Republicans argue that such a large increase in the overtime threshold could hold back job creators. "Would doubling the threshold, doesn't that concern you?" Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderObamaCare becomes political weapon for Democrats Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Sen. Warren sold out the DNC MORE (R-Tenn.) asked Acosta.

Acosta admitted the Obama administration's revision would "create a stress on the system."

"The world has gotten more expensive, and salaries have changed since 2004," Acosta reiterated. "If you were to apply a straight inflation adjustment, I believe the figure if it were to be updated would be somewhere around $33,000, give or take."

Democrats pushed Acosta to defend the Obama administration's rule in court. But Acosta said he has "serious questions" about whether the Labor Department has the authority to raise the overtime salary threshold by more than the rate of inflation.

Click here for the story: http://bit.ly/2mRSM0C

 

Acosta came under the microscope on Wednesday but appeared to avoid any major missteps that could imperil his confirmation.

For five takeaways from his hearing, click here: http://bit.ly/2nDP3YP

 

ON TAP FOR THURSDAY 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will reconvene for the fourth day of hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. 

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Jay Clayton to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of Agriculture.

 

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

Keep an eye on these rules in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register:

--The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will loosen privacy regulations for patients' with HIV.

The new rules will allow the VA to share information about a patient's negative HIV test result with their doctors who do not work for the government.

"HIV testing is a common practice today in healthcare and the stigma of testing that may have been seen in the 1980s when HIV was first discovered is no longer prevalent," the agency says. 

--The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will delay new walnut rules.

The USDA proposed new walnut grading standards last November, but the agency will reopen the comment period to give the public more time to consider the changes.

The public now has an additional 30 days to comment.

--The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is backing down from safety regulations for motor carriers.

The FMCSA proposed in January 2016 new rules for determining the "safety fitness" of motor carriers. But the proposal, which never became final even under the Obama administration, will be withdrawn immediately.

"The new methodology would have determined when a motor carrier is not fit to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in or affecting interstate commerce based on the carrier's on-road safety data; an investigation; or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information," the agency writes.

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW 

Warren: 'No confidence in Trump's Labor pick 

Gorsuch: I accepted Roe v. Wade as 'the law of the land' 

Trump's labor pick signals support for overtime pay hike 

White House: Trump isn't considering a carbon tax 

Sanders: Block Trump's SEC pick

GOP chairman says Dodd-Frank reform still a 2017 priority

Senate on the verge of vote to kill FCC's consumer privacy protections

Ethanol groups add lobbying firepower for mandate fight

Trump tantrum looms on Wall Street if healthcare effort stalls - Reuters 

 

BY THE NUMBERS

12: Proposed rules

7: Final rules

(Thursday's Federal Register)

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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