Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Merry Trumpmas? Bah Trumpbug!

Over the weekend I talked about Republicans in Congress eagerly awaiting the opportunity to reverse an Obama Labor Department rule and take overtime pay away from salaried workers who make less than $47,000 a year, something that would affect four million working Americans and their families.

Weeks before the 115th Congress even begins, House Republicans are laying the groundwork for a major push to repeal President Barack Obama’s most recent regulations, using the Congressional Review Act. The 1996 law allows the House to reverse regulations enacted within the previous 60 legislative days — and the Senate to pass a repeal by simple majority instead of the upper chamber’s typical 60-vote threshold.

While Obama is still president, the Republican controlled-Congress has no chance of repealing his regulations. But once Trump is inaugurated, that all changes.

Another boon for the right: The 1996 law is written such that the 60-legislative-day clock resets at the beginning of each Congress for all rules enacted in the 60 legislative days prior to the final day of congressional adjournment. That will give Congress months longer to tear up regulations issued late this year.

These working-class folks are mostly pink-collar office workers and lower "management" in retail and restaurants, busting their asses 50-60 hours a week and getting the same pay with no overtime every week (and even more on Black Friday week like this week.)  They were slated to start getting this overtime pay just in time for Christmas on December 1.

But Nevada GOP AG Adam Laxalt (a "rising GOP star" and Trump supporter in the Silver State) has come through with a gigantic lump of coal for millions this holiday season: a federal injunction blocking these overtime rules from taking affect at all.

In a blow to the Obama administration's labor-law plans, a federal court has blocked the start of a rule that would have made an estimated 4 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay heading into the holiday season.

As a result of Tuesday's ruling, overtime changes set to take effect Dec. 1 are now unlikely be in play before vast power shifts to a Donald Trump administration, which has spoken out against Obama-backed government regulation and generally aligns with the business groups that stridently opposed the overtime rule.

The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas granted the nationwide preliminary injunction, saying the Department of Labor's rule exceeds the authority the agency was delegated by Congress.

"Businesses and state and local governments across the country can breathe a sigh of relief now that this rule has been halted," said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who led the coalition of 21 states and governors fighting the rule and has been a frequent critic of what he characterized as Obama administration overreach. "Today's preliminary injunction reinforces the importance of the rule of law and constitutional government."

The regulation sought to shrink the so-called "white collar exemption" that allows employers to skip overtime pay for salaried administrative or professional workers who make more than about $23,660 per year. Critics say it's wrong that some retail and restaurant chains pay low-level managers as little as $25,000 a year and no overtime — even if they work 60 hours a week.

So there you have it.  Odds are now very good that these rules will be blocked until they can be reversed by congressional Republicans and eventually dismantled by the Trump Administration, meaning we'll continue to have millions of workers working 60-hour weeks with no overtime.

Make America Great Again, right?

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