US Senate Joins House in OK of FLSA Blocking Measure

September 15, 2004 ( - The continuing battle over new federal overtime rules remains a red hot issue as a US Senate committee defied the White House by approving a measure blocking the rules' implementation.

The Republican-run Senate Appropriations Committee approved the provision on a 16 to 13 vote with two Republicans – Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Ben Knighthorse Campbell of Colorado – joining Democrats in supporting the proposal, according to the Associated Press.

The measure was offered by Senator Tom Harkin (D – Iowa), who said the new overtime rules that took effect August 23 would deny the extra pay to many workers who had received it. Harkin said the new rules are “antiworker, anti-job growth, and anything but family friendly.” The overtime provision was added to a $145.9-billion spending bill financing labor, health and education programs.

However, from the other side of the aisle, Senator Judd Gregg (R – New Hampshire) said the estimate of six million workers losing overtime under the amendments to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was “totally bogus.” Committee chairman, Ted Stevens (R – Alaska), argued that the new rules should be left in effect for a while so their impact can be judged.

Action on the Harkin measure represented the second time in a week that Congress went against the President on the issue. On September 9, the Republican-led House voted 223-193 to prevent the Labor Department from carrying out the new rules (See Despite Loss on Overtime Amendment, GOP Unfazed ).