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Washington Weekly Update 2-26-24

Situational Awareness
The House and Senate are both in session this week. During the next several days, lawmakers will rush to finalize a short-term spending deal to avert a partial government shutdown on Friday evening. In January, top leaders on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees reached an agreement on final top-line numbers for each of the 12 spending bills. Since then, there have been no public assurances that decision makers have made further progress on preparing the legislation for a final vote on the House floor. Debates over controversial “policy riders” could only further delay proceedings. President Biden has invited the top four lawmakers in both chambers to meet at the White House Tuesday afternoon to discuss finding a resolution to the current stalemate. 

Upon their arrival to Washington on Wednesday, House lawmakers will vote on several bills, including a short-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization package and a series of Small Business Administration-related measures. One such bill would require the SBA Administrator to provide a link to resources for submitting reports on suspected fraud related to COVID-19 federal loan programs. Another piece of legislation scheduled for a floor vote would require the SBA Administrator to regularly reassess the asset and net-worth thresholds for qualifying as an “economically disadvantaged individual.”

Federal Court Allows Case Against DOL Independent Contractor Rule

Last week, a federal Fifth Circuit appeals judge granted a request from a trio of business groups to revive a case against the Department of Labor’s final independent contractor rule. The case brought forward by the Coalition for Workforce Innovation, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Financial Services Institute seeks to revive previous litigation targeting the Biden administration’s “withdrawal” rule in 2021 that sought to rescind the Trump-era independent contractor regulation. This action by the three business groups is intended to speed up the judicial process. The case has been assigned to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which invalidated the Biden administration’s attempt to withdraw the Trump-era independent contractor rule in 2022. NCA published a concise backgrounder on the rule for private clubs; download your copy here.

U.S. District Judge Stays Joint-Employer Rule until March 11, 2024

A federal district judge in Texas last week stayed the effective date of the National Labor Relations Board’s final rule on determining the standard for joint-employer status until March 11, 2024. This decision further delays the rule’s implementation, which was already pushed back from Dec. 26 to Feb. 26 to accommodate two separate legal challenges. The final rule establishes that, under the National Labor Relations Act, two or more entities may be considered joint employers of a group of employees if each entity has an employment relationship with the employees, and if the entities share or codetermine one or more of the employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment. The new standard will only be applied to cases filed after the rule becomes effective.

Senate HELP Committee Considers Su’s DOL Nomination

On Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on Julie Su’s nomination as Secretary of Labor, a role in which she’s served in an acting capacity since March 11, 2023. After failing to secure enough support in Senate for a confirmation vote on Su’s previous nomination, President Biden designated Su as Acting Secretary of Labor amid opposition from conservative lawmakers. Under Su’s leadership, the Department of Labor has proceeded to release several controversial regulations, including amending the agency’s interpretation of the economic realities test used to determine independent contractor status and raising the federal overtime threshold.

Senate Hearing on U.S. Army Corps Water Projects

On Wednesday, lawmakers on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear testimony from Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael C. Connor and Army Corps Chief of Engineers Scott A. Spellmon on the Army Corps’ water infrastructure projects, programs, and priorities. The hearing will provide lawmakers with input as they prepare to develop the Water Resources Development Act, comprehensive legislation that’s typically passed every two years and provides reauthorization for the Army Corp’s activities for flood control, ecosystem restoration, and other water infrastructure projects. Additionally, the hearing will offer senators the opportunity to pose questions related to the Army Corps’ implementation of the updated “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. Industry stakeholders and business groups have held the position that the post-Sackett rule has provided little certainty on determining whether a body of water falls under federal jurisdiction.

Read NCA’s Interview with Congressman Hern in the New Club Director
NCA recently sat down with Kevin Hern, who represents Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district, which includes much of Tulsa’s metropolitan area, to learn his priorities and vision on policymaking. Hern currently chairs the Republican Study Committee and serves on the Ways and Means Committee. He shared his views on the economy, support of small businesses and relationship with his district.

We also look at the “Irregular Order” of legislating in this Congress and what we can expect from the House and Senate in 2024.

Read the full Club Director here.