Administration officials issued the warning regarding a move by Representatives David Obey (D-Wisconsin) and George Miller (D-California) to add the overtime rule amendment to a $142.5 billion Department of Labor/Department of Health and Human Services appropriations bill, the Associated Press reported. The amendment would block all aspects of the rules except those extending overtime to lower-paid workers (See GOP Reps Battle Democratic Amendment on Overtime Rules ).
Lawmakers said they had enough Republican support to approve the Obey-Miller measure, leading the GOP leadership to put off a vote Wednesday. House Democrats contend that millions of workers could lose their overtime pay under the rules.
“They want to pull the bill so they have another chance to twist arms overnight,” Obey said, according to the AP. Obey acknowledged that Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, could take out any provisions referring to the overtime rules in the final version of the bill. But with worker security an issue as the election nears, “it’s a hell of a lot harder for them to strip it out this time.”
The first major overhaul of overtime rules in more than 50 years went into effect August 23. The department said the changes would help lower-paid workers and clarify which white-collar workers are entitled to overtime pay.
The department estimated that 1.3 million workers who earn less than $23,660 a year would become eligible, while about 107,000 white collar workers who earn $100,000 or more could lose eligibility. But Democrats and labor unions warn that slight changes in the rules’ wording could exempt up to 6 million from overtime pay.
The issue has come up several times in Congress over the past year. Last May, the Senate, by a 52-47 vote, approved language stating that no worker who currently qualified for overtime should lose that eligibility. A week later House Republicans narrowly blocked a vote on a similar measure.