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Washington Weekly Update 10-2-23

Situational Awareness

On Saturday, Congress averted a government shutdown after Speaker Kevin McCarthy led a successful last-minute effort to pass a short-term spending bill with a significant bipartisan majority. After brief theatrics in both chambers, including the pulling of a House Office fire alarm by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and a brief Senate hold by Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), the spending resolution, which additionally includes $16 billion for the federal disaster relief program and an extension of the FAA’s authority (which was also set to expire on Saturday) through the end of the calendar year, President Biden signed the bill a little after 11:00 p.m. The extension gives lawmakers until Nov. 17 to craft a year-long proposal.

Republican leadership released a preview of an ambitious legislative schedule that would see the House debate and pass the remaining eight appropriations bills ahead of that date. Those lawmakers will have to stick to a tight schedule to leave themselves time to negotiate with the Senate. To start their efforts, House Republicans called off a planned two-week district work period in October, and will instead return this week to begin debating those bills.

Having solidified his position as a chief McCarthy antagonist, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wasted no time Sunday proclaiming that he would seek to remove the Speaker as soon as this week. Congressman Gaetz and several other conservative members of the party believe that McCarthy’s agreement with Democrats amounted to a betrayal of previous (unannounced and unwritten) agreements between the Speaker and his conservative bloc. Of note, the bill did not break the longstanding “Hastert Rule” long honored by House Republicans—the idea that at least a majority of the majority needed to support a bill before it could come to the floor. Speaker McCarthy noted ahead of the vote on Saturday that he welcomes such a challenge. Ninety Republicans voted against the bill on Saturday, but with no clear successor for the gavel, ousting McCarthy remains an uphill task for his detractors.

What Happened 

After an unsuccessful attempt on Friday to pass a short-term spending bill that contained a host of Republican priorities (and therefore would have required nearly universal support from the Republican Conference), Speaker McCarthy was left with few opportunities to move legislation forward before the end of the fiscal year. Messaging out of the Speaker’s office was muddled through the end of the week, with the Speaker at times suggesting that he would not bring any bill to the floor that did not contain significant spending reductions. McCarthy informed his own conference of his plans to put a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) on the floor at their meeting Saturday morning, moving swiftly during the day to pin lawmakers in both parties on an up-or-down vote to keep the lights on. His gamble has bought Congress, if not him, some additional time.

H-2B Returning Workers

Prior to the CR kerfuffle, Speaker McCarthy was able to get his conference partially back on fiscal track by passing three individual appropriations bills: Defense, Homeland Security, and the State/Foreign Operations packages. The Homeland Security funding bill was stripped of a provision that would give employers the ability to hire returning workers on H-2B visas without having them count against an annual cap. Without this language, employers that depend on seasonal workers will now turn to the Biden administration to issue supplemental H-2B visas.

OMB Review of DOL Independent Contractor Rule

Last Thursday, the Department of Labor (DOL) sent its proposed independent contractor to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. This is the final step before a final rule will be published in the Federal Register. The proposed version of the rule returns to a multi-factor approach to determine when a worker ought to be classified either an independent contractor or an employee with guaranteed protections provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

OSHA Oversight

Last week, the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing titled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).” The sole witness was OSHA Assistant Secretary Douglas L. Parker. During the hearing, members requested additional information regarding OSHA’s proposed walkaround rule that would allow third-party individuals to accompany an OSHA inspector during a workplace inspection and the development of a national heat stress standard. Several GOP members of the subcommittee focused their questioning on long-delayed rulemaking on COVID-19 exposure in healthcare workplaces.

Investment Opportunity

Last week, it was reported that the PGA Tour had received bids from Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. and Fenway Sports Group. If PGA was to accept outside funding from U.S. investors, it could help to assure lawmakers who have voiced concerns over the broadening influence of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Webcast: Meeting Members’ and Employees’ Expectations of Club Leaders

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. ET for a discussion from GGA Partners experts about new research insights that shed light into the different expectations of club leaders from all of its stakeholders:

  • Compare how expectations change between audiences.
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NCA members can register for free here.