Washington, D.C. – Yesterday in the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Ron Johnson (WI) offered several amendments to legislation funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related agencies, consistent with his goal to help job creators get relief from burdensome regulations.
Block the Department of Labor’s Changes to the “Persuader Rule:” The Department of Labor issued a proposed rule restricting the “advice” exception to the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Implementation of the proposed changes to this rule will increase reporting requirements for companies and consultants when advising on certain labor matters. Many, including the Chamber of Commerce, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Society for Human Resource Management object to these heightened requirements. Defunding the implementation of the Department’s new interpretation would stop its adverse effect on job creators. As proposed, this rule will create a significant barrier to those seeking outside counsel to even comply with legal requirements involved in union actions and increase legal liability by chilling both the search for and the availability of counsel to management.
Outcome: Amendment was defeated on a vote of 12-17.
Defund NLRB Until White House Complies with the Constitution: This amendment to the funding measure for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies would de-fund the National Labor Relations Board until all Member positions are filled by individuals who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate in accordance with the law. Because of the President Obama’s unprecedented use of ‘recess appointments,’ several current Members of the Board have not received appropriate Senate review. Nevertheless, the Board has issued rules that negatively impact job creation - at a time of slow economic growth.
Outcome: Amendment was defeated on a vote of 13-17.
Senator Johnson also offered proposals to tackle waste in government spending:
Require Health & Human Services to Disclose Public Relations Spending: On February 28, 2012, Senators Claire McCaskill (MO) and Rob Portman (OH) requested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide information regarding its purchase of public relations services. Senator Portman subsequently wrote to Secretary Sebelius requesting specific information regarding a reported $20 million contract for public relations services for promotion of Obamacare. Neither request has received a response. The Johnson amendment requires HHS to respond to these requests. Chairman Inouye agreed to include such language in his Manager’s Amendment, which was adopted by the Committee on Appropriations.
Outcome: Amendment included in legislation approved by Appropriations Committee.
Require Transparency in Conference Spending: Two provisions that Senator Johnson offered ensure that each funding bill for 2013 carries language requiring transparency in spending on conference funding, by:
- Barring the use of taxpayer dollars for the attendance of international conferences by more than 50 federal employees; and,
- Requiring all conference spending over $20,000 to be reported to the agency’s office of the Inspector General and posted online for the public.
These two measures were approved by the full Appropriations Committee to be incorporated within the legislation and report language.
Outcome: Provisions included in legislation approved by Appropriations Committee.
Defunding the Prevention and Public Health Fund: This amendment was offered to defund a slush fund from Obamacare by eliminating the authority to transfer funds. While this so-called Prevention and Public Health Fund was created in Obamacare to focus on promoting wellness, preventing disease and protecting against public health emergencies, this fund has already doled out millions in taxpayer dollars dedicated to lobbying for legislation at the state and local level. President Obama has been willing to cut the fund in his recent budgets to reduce the deficit.
Outcome: Amendment defeated on a vote of 14-16.