Week ahead: Overtime rules under scrutiny

The Department of Labor will be in the hot seat Wednesday as lawmakers take a close look at the agency’s wage and hour rules.

Republicans are worried about the Labor Department’s upcoming overtime rules, and are sure to air their frustrations during a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing.

The Labor Department is expected to propose new rules in the coming weeks after the White House’s Office of Management and Budget signs off on the proposal.

{mosads}President Obama last year ordered the Labor Department to develop new overtime rules. They were originally due in February, but the agency missed that deadline.

The new rules would expand the number of low-wage workers who qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Currently, many employees who make more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, are considered management and are not eligible for overtime pay. The Labor Department is expected to raise that threshold so more workers qualify for overtime pay, but the question is by how much.

Labor experts expect the new threshold to come in somewhere between $42,000 a year and $54,000 a year. This would provide millions more workers with additional compensation for the hours they work.

Democrats are pushing the Obama administration to raise the overtime threshold as high as it can, but Republicans are urging caution.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up a bill from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday that would block the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Waters of the United States rule.

The bill would force the agency to withdraw its rule and provide guidelines for rewriting it. The rule aims to clarify the agency’s jurisdiction over smaller waterways in the U.S., but Republicans accuse the EPA of a power grab and want to limit the waters that the rule covers.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on passenger rail safety and efforts to implement so-called train control systems following the deadly crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia.

That same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet for a hearing titled “Examining the Federal Regulatory System to Improve Accountability, Transparency and Integrity.”

Across the Capitol, on Friday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing on the EPA’s proposed ozone rule.



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