What: All Issues : Labor Rights : H.R. 2660. Fiscal 2004 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Strike Administration-Drafted Rules Which Would Deny Overtime Pay to Certain Classes of Workers. (2003 house Roll Call 531)
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H.R. 2660. Fiscal 2004 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Strike Administration-Drafted Rules Which Would Deny Overtime Pay to Certain Classes of Workers.
house Roll Call 531     Oct 02, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

One of the most controversial provisions in the 2004 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill was an administration-sponsored effort to exempt certain classes of workers from overtime pay. Specifically, the provision would exempt white-collar workers, such as executive assistants, administrators, and professionals, from overtime pay even if those employees worked in excess of forty hours in a workweek. In the view of Progressives, the proposed rules changes would violate both workers' rights and fair labor practices. Progressives also pointed out that many workers depend on overtime pay to provide for their families and that denying overtime pay would cause them financial hardship. Conservatives had a different position on the overtime pay issue. In their view, the laws governing overtime pay, which were first enacted by Congress over fifty years ago, required revisiting in light of current economic conditions. According to Congressman Regula (R-OH), "it has been over 50 years since the present [overtime] rules were promulgated and the [Labor] department thinks it is important to take a look [at overtime rules] in relationship to today's world, today's communications, today's structures of our labor programs that would be realistic." (Note: During debate on the issue, Conservatives never explicitly identified the current economic conditions which required modifying the rules governing overtime pay.) The administration's proposed modifications to overtime pay rules, Conservatives added, would extend overtime benefits to 1.3 million workers who currently do not qualify for overtime pay. Conservatives also argued that failing to include the administration's proposed limitations on overtime pay in the underlying appropriations bill would trigger a veto from President Bush. The subject of this vote was a motion offered by Congressman Obey (D-WI) to instruct House conferees to prevent the enactment of the administration's overtime pay rules during conference committee negotiations with the Senate (when legislation passes the House and Senate in different forms, a conference committee is convened to iron out differences between the two versions of the legislation). Twenty-one Republicans voted alongside an overwhelming majority of Democrats in support of Obey's motion, the motion to instruct was agreed to on a vote of 221-203, and House conferees were instructed to prevent the passage of any rules which would deny overtime pay to workers.

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