Tidal Basin at sunrise. Cherry blossom's at the base of the tidal basin, leading to the Washington Monument.

March (Shutdown) Madness. Finally! This week, the U.S. Congress agreed to fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding for the federal government, a task that was supposed to have been completed by the end of September 2023. At the time of publication, it appears that the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have executed a fast break to pass legislation that President Biden will sign to stave off a partial shutdown (though there is a possibility of a brief lapse due to legislative logistics). So, the dire warnings of a federal government shutdown—which the Buzz has been issuing since at least August 2023—will be put to rest (at least for a few months).

House Republicans Challenge DOL’s IC Rule. On March 21, 2024, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce advanced a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) independent contractor regulation, which became effective on March 11, 2024. The resolution is expected to pass the House, but Republicans’ dwindling majority means that passage won’t be a slam dunk. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), has already gone on record stating that he will introduce a companion resolution in the Senate.

OSHA Walkaround Regulation Imminent. This week, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs completed its review of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed walkaround regulation. This means that OSHA will be driving hard to the hoop to finalize the regulation at any moment—perhaps within the week.

H-1B Registration Period Extended. Employers looking to beat the buzzer and register for the FY 2025 H-1B cap have until noon (EDT) on Monday, March 25, 2024. Geeta M. Shah has the details on the process, which has changed this year pursuant to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) recent rulemaking.

Foxx Seeks Info on Union Fraud Policies. Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is putting a full-court press on labor leaders. Chair Foxx has sent letters to twelve major labor union presidents expressing her concern about “reports from the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) highlighting significant fraud, embezzlement, and corrupt behavior by union officials.” Each letter addresses specific instances of union corruption and malfeasance and asks the unions to provide to the committee, among other information, descriptions “of the policies and procedures the union [and its local affiliates] has in place to monitor and deter fraud, corruption, and improper accounting, including any third-party audits.”

Women’s Caucus Releases Agenda. This week, the Democratic Women’s Caucus released a twelve-page document, entitled, “An Executive Action Agenda That Works for Women.” According to the accompanying press release, the agenda is “a comprehensive set of requests for the Biden Administration to use the full power of the executive branch to build on his historic progress and deliver for women.” The agenda includes many labor and employment–related recommendations, including the following:

  • “Issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide their employees with 12 weeks paid family and medical leave.”
  • “Ensure that child care and home care workers have a pathway to a union, through rulemaking, guidance, and other agency action ….”
  • “Ensure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) collect compensation data by gender, age, race, ethnicity, and ability, and publish wage gap information by industry and locality.”
  • “Take steps to promote fair work schedules that ensure working people have input, predictability, and access to adequate hours ….”
  • “Create workplace safety guidance tailored to private homes for domestic workers. These recommendations should include effective strategies to conduct health and safety enforcement that address concerns of both employer and worker communities.”
  • “Finalize the proposed rule to restore and extend overtime protections to 3.6 million salaried workers to ensure workers are paid fairly for their overtime work to reflect the cost of living.”

While the caucus likely hopes that these requests are an alley-oop for the administration, political realities and the regulatory process say otherwise.

“Turkey Day” … in March? If your favorite college basketball team played like a bunch of turkeys this week, you might appreciate the fact that the U.S. Senate designated March 16, 2024, as ‘‘National Osceola Turkey Day.” According to the Senate resolution, “the Osceola is 1 of 5 subspecies of wild turkey in North America,” and it is only located in Florida. Moreover, “the Osceola subspecies of wild turkey is often perceived as mysterious and the most difficult to harvest because of its small geographic range and the often swampy habitat where it is found.” Of course, playing basketball like a turkey isn’t always a bad thing. Just ask the Hokies of Virginia Tech, a #4 seed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s basketball tournament. Virginia Tech advanced to the second round of the tournament with a 92–49 victory over Marshall University today.

The Buzz will be on hiatus next week, but will return on April 5, 2024.

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