United States: Tax Reform Gets Under Way; Special Interest Groups Already Bustling And More ... (Beltway Buzz - October 6, 2017)

The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what's happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.

Tax Reform Gets Under Way; Special Interest Groups Already Bustling. As soon as the Republican-controlled Congress cast aside (however momentarily) its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to focus on tax reform, K-Street lobbyists commenced their expected trek to the Capitol. Apprehensive that their pet tax deductions might be in danger, representatives of special interest groups began clamoring for lawmakers' attention. Judging from initial reports, the Republican proposal would lower the corporate tax rate, lower the top personal income tax rates, eliminate the  alternative minimum tax and estate tax, and—in Steven Mnuchin's words—eliminate "lots of deductions." Though vague on detail, a blueprint released last week seemed to indicate that certain cherished tax deductions, such as deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, might be at least somewhat safe. Importantly for the employee benefits industry, so arefor now"tax breaks for retirement plans." Everything is subject to change, and the actual value in dollars of some of these deductions might be diminished if, as expected, the standard deduction is doubled or otherwise increased. In response to the intense lobbying efforts, Republicans are already seemingly backing off from a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local income taxes, which disproportionately affect residents of states having high income tax rates. Industry is certain to attack each and every proposed elimination tooth and nail, and it should be interesting to see which cuts—if any—remain at the end of the day. (Hat tip to Stephanie A. Smithey, Timothy G. Verrall, and Richard C. Libert.)

Arbitration at the Supreme Court. On Monday, October 2, the Supreme Court of the United States kicked off its October 2017 term by hearing oral argument on the legality of class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements. Ron Chapman, Jr. and Christopher C. Murray have the play-by-play of the oral argument in the three cases dealing with this issue that have been consolidated before the Court: National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.; Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis; and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris. As Ron and Chris note, Justice Gorsuch was silent during the argument. Because Gorsuch is still new to the Court, you may be wondering what he thinks about arbitration. Well, according to SCOTUSblog, "Gorsuch's opinions have interpreted the arbitration clauses in light of the overriding presumption in favor of arbitration." We'll have to wait for a decision from the Court to see if this pattern holds. Finally, in an unusual development, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin, who argued the case for the Board, subsequently sent a letter to the Court correcting answers he delivered in response to Chief Justice Roberts's "50-employee" hypothetical (regarding a hypothetical agreement permitting collective arbitration only when at least 50 employees join the arbitration) noted in Ron and Chris's article.

Groundhog Day for "Agency Fees." In more Supreme Court news, late last week, the Court agreed to hear a new challenge to so-called "fair share" or "agency fees" that nonmember public sector workers pay to unions as a condition of employment. Harold P. Coxson has more, including an explanation of why this issue transcends the public sector (spoiler alert: like everything else, it's about the money).

Joint-Employer Bill Clears Hurdle. On October 4, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported out H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, on a party-line vote of 23–17. The Save Local Business Act will tighten the joint-employer standards in both the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The bill has 95 bipartisan cosponsors, including three Democrats: Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Luis Correa (D-CA), and Collin Peterson (D-MN). In addition to a whole swath of industry associations and right-leaning groups, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is also supporting the bill. The next stop would be a vote on the House floor, though whether Republican leadership will bring up the bill is unclear.

Immigration Matters. Here are some immigration tidbits from this week: 

  • On October 2, comments were due on the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) proposed changes to the Labor Condition Application. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce requested that the DOL withdraw the proposed changes and instead propose them, if at all, via the Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking process.
  • On October 3, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing will now be available for extensions of H-1B status, the final category of H-1B petitions to become eligible for premium processing treatment after a lengthy suspension. Stephen H. Smalley has the details.
  • On October 4, the House Homeland Security Committee reported out the Border Security for America Act, H.R. 3548. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $10 billion in funding for a border wall.
  • October 5 was the deadline for current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients to apply for renewal of their benefits. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and SHRM, among other groups, continue to push Congress for a quick resolution of the matter.
  • Also on October 5, the Senate confirmed Lee Francis Cissna to be USCIS director.
  • Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has an op-ed in The Hill on his bill to require all employers to use E-Verify.

Senate Nominations Hearings. As the Buzz previously reported, on October 4, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a confirmation hearing for Cheryl Stanton (to be the DOL's Wage and Hour Division administrator), David Zatezalo (to be assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health), and Peter Robb (to be general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board). A vote in the committee will be the next step, and the Buzz expects that the full Senate will vote by the end of the month to ensure that Robb steps in immediately upon the expiration of current general counsel Richard Griffin's term on October 31.

DOL Solicitor. Late last week, President Trump announced his intent to nominate attorney Kate S. O'Scannlain to be solicitor for the Department of Labor. Currently, Nicholas C. Geale is serving as both acting solicitor and chief of staff for Secretary of Labor Acosta. A confirmation hearing for O'Scannlain has yet to be scheduled.

EEOC Training. Readers may recall that in 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its report from its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. As a follow-up to the report, on Wednesday, October 4, the EEOC unveiled two training programs for employers called Leading for Respect (for supervisors) and Respect in the Workplace (for all employees). The programs are intended to focus on "respect, acceptable workplace conduct, and the types of behaviors that contribute to a respectful and inclusive . . . workplace." A list of frequently asked questions on the training programs is available here. No word on whether the training will instruct employers on how to inoculate their workplace civility policies from NLRB scrutiny.

Of Mice and Congressmen. Washington D.C.'s rodent problem might not be as bad as New York City's, but it's still pretty bad. The Capitol Hill area is particularly infested—and we aren't just referring to the politicians and lobbyists. Some speculate that a 10-year restoration project of the Cannon House Office Building has led to an influx of vermin in the three House office buildings (Rayburn, Cannon, and Longworth). However, with Congressional approval ratings nearing all-time lows, cynics may say that the rodents are simply abandoning the sinking ship that is the 115th Congress.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.