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Warren presses Mulvaney, Azar on tip pooling

Warren presses Mulvaney, Azar on tip pooling
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches DNA is irrelevant — Elizabeth Warren is simply not Cherokee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis MORE (D-Mass.) is demanding answers from Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaRene (Alex) Alexander AcostaTrump faces new decision on second most powerful court How private sector can fight opioid epidemic Federal mine safety official accused Trump of illegally putting miners in danger MORE and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments On The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race MORE over whether they hid an unfavorable report on the administration’s tip-pooling rule.

The controversial rule allows employers who pay the full minimum wage to pool workers’ tips and split them with nontipped workers.

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Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday that Acosta convinced Mulvaney to overrule Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Neomi Rao and release the rule without an analysis showing workers could lose billion in gratuities. 

It also reported that Rao tried to block the rule from being released and that Acosta and Mulvaney went ahead despite opposition within their own departments.

“The suggestion that you and Secretary Acosta both overruled your own staffs in order to reach a politically pre-ordained outcome without regard for the welfare of working men and women is deeply damaging to the trust that the American people place in the federal government to use its regulatory power on their behalf, not for lobbyists and narrow corporate interests,” Warren wrote.

In a second letter, Warren also called on Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, to hold an oversight hearing on the controversy.

The regulation, which reverses an Obama-era rule that clarified tips are the property of workers who earn them, was lambasted by Democrats and labor rights groups for not including any safeguard to stop employers from pocketing tips.

A Department of Labor spokesperson said the department does not comment on deliberative processes.

OMB did not respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.), however, was able to reach a deal with Acosta and add language to the $1.3 trillion spending bill released Wednesday night to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act and create a protection regardless of whether the worker makes tips on top of a full minimum wage.

Despite this legislative fix, Warren told Alexander the committee has a responsibility to ensure rulemakings are conducted in a fair and transparent fashion.

“The misleading approach reportedly taken by Secretary Acosta and Director Mulvaney reveals an appalling disregard for the use of evidence and objective analysis in policymaking, and a lack of interest in the millions of hard-working Americans who rely on the Department of Labor, and this committee, to defend their rights and protect their earnings,” she wrote. “The reports raise serious questions about the ability and willingness of Secretary Acosta and Director Mulvaney to objectively and fairly do their jobs.”