Congress: Home for the Holidays. The U.S. Congress is wrapping up for the year, and—we know you are going to find this hard to believe—Congress didn’t make much legislative progress during the three-week post-Thanksgiving work period (though the members did manage to pass the fiscal year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that has passed for sixty-three straight years). Our lawmakers continue to spin their wheels on federal government funding, an issue the Buzz has been monitoring for months. Congress will reconvene in the second week of January 2024. Lawmakers will then have just eleven days—including the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday—before the first funding deadline of January 19, 2024. It appears that government shutdown drama will continue in 2024.
DOL Finalizes Rule for Federal Contractor Successors. On December 14, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published a final rule, “Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts.” The rule implements President Biden’s November 18, 2021, executive order of the same name, which states, “When a service contract expires, and a follow-on contract is awarded for the same or similar services, the Federal Government’s procurement interests in economy and efficiency are best served when the successor contractor or subcontractor hires the predecessor’s employees, thus avoiding displacement of these employees.” The final rule addresses issues related to which agencies and contracts are covered, the timing and method of job offers, circumstances related to reduced staffing of a successor, the process for excepting contracts from the requirements, recordkeeping, and remedies. As the Buzz has previously discussed, this is one of those D.C. labor policy issues that has been flipping and flopping, depending on the administration, for at least thirty years. The rule becomes effective on February 12, 2024.
House Committee Tackles Labor Issues. On December 13, 2023, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing entitled, “Protecting Workers and Small Businesses from Biden’s Attack on Worker Free Choice and Economic Growth.” The hearing focused on a variety of labor and employment matters that should be familiar to Buzz readers: union organizing via card check, defining “independent contractor,” and joint employer status. Republicans and witnesses from the business community discussed how the administration’s position on these issues may be harmful to employers and the economy at large. Witnesses from the business community also criticized the administration’s failure to nominate a Republican to the remaining seat on the Board, which has been vacant for one year. While it is helpful that at least some of our labor leaders are concerned with what is happening at the Board and the Department of Labor, aside from budgets cuts and Congressional Review Act attempts (see immediately below), there isn’t a heck of lot they can about it.
Resolution Blocking Joint Employer Reg. Advances. In addition to the aforementioned hearing, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce also this week advanced a Congressional Review Act resolution rescinding the National Labor Relations Board’s joint employer rule. The resolution now advances to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is likely to pass. In the U.S. Senate, the resolution has a chance of passing, as well, as it will only need a majority of votes to pass, and Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is a cosponsor. President Biden, of course, will veto the measure.
H-1B Cap Met. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced this week that it “has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2024.” Nana P. Boakye has the details. The Buzz will be monitoring potential changes in 2024 to the process that may result from finalization of USCIS’s proposed H-1B modernization rule.
The Bill of Rights and James Madison. Today in 1791, Virginia voted to approve the Bill of Rights, thus meeting the three-fourths ratification threshold for cementing the amendments into the U.S. Constitution. Championed by James Madison, the Bill of Rights originally contained twelve amendments, but the states only ratified Madison’s third through twelfth proposed amendments (the first two rejected amendments concerned the size of the House of Representatives and setting salaries for members of Congress). While the Bill of Rights is great and all, James Madison would undoubtedly be even prouder of how well his namesake university has been crushing it in the collegiate sports world these days: the 19-3 women’s lacrosse team advanced to the national quarterfinals last spring, the men’s basketball team is currently ranked 20th in the country, and the football team will play in its first bowl game on December 23, 2023, taking on Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.