United States: Shutdown Shelved (For Now) (Beltway Buzz, December 7, 2018)

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.


Shutdown Shelved (For Now). In a rare demonstration of unity, Congress punted on this week’s government funding debate out of respect for the funeral of President George H.W. Bush (more on the former president’s legacy below). The two-week continuing resolution will avoid a partial government shutdown today and extend funding until December 21, 2018. Whether this unity will last, however, is doubtful, as funding for President Trump’s desired border wall still remains a major issue.

USCIS Proposes H-1B Preregistration. On December 3, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a proposed rule that “would require petitioners seeking to file H-B petitions subject to the regular cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (‘USCIS’) during a designated registration period.” Melissa Manna has all the details. USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna has previously stated in media reports that he hopes to finalize this proposed rule by the Fiscal Year 2020 cap season, which begins in the spring of 2019. Comments are due by January 2, 2019.

More OFCCP Directives. These days, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) is cranking out directives quicker than Santa’s elves crank out toys. Late last week, OFCCP announced a trio of new directives designed to reduce the length of compliance evaluations, clarify its compliance review procedures, and streamline its help desk processes while incorporating the use of opinion letters. Kiosha H. Dickey has all the details.

Beryllium Changes on the Way? Late last week, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—the federal government’s rulemaking “gatekeeper”—released the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed changes to its 2017 beryllium rule. This means that the workplace safety agency should make these changes available for public comment soon. According to the latest regulatory agenda, the proposed changes “are generally designed to clarify the standard in response to stakeholder questions or to simplify compliance, while in all cases maintaining a high degree of protection from the adverse health effects of beryllium exposure.”

Employment Policy Road Map? This week the Economic Policy Institute released its agenda of policy initiatives for Congress to take up next year. The publication serves as another road map for Democrats, who will control labor and employment policy in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in 2019. Some of the highlights include the following policy prescriptions:

  • End at-will employment.

  • Amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to ban right-to-work laws, require first contract arbitration, increase penalties on employers, and limit employers’ abilities to communicate with employees.
  • Establish national paid sick leave and predictive scheduling.
  • Increase the federal minimum wage immediately to $13 per hour, and set the salary basis for overtime eligibility to at least the $47,476 as in the 2016 overtime rule.
  • Ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements.

  • Institute federal contractor “blacklisting” standards.

  • Require employers to disclose employee wage data broken down by sex and race to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

President Bush’s Civil Rights Legacy. Much has been written and said about the recent passing of President George H.W. Bush, but the Buzz will focus on the 41st president’s impact on federal employment policy. Of course, President Bush’s most significant impact in this area was the role that he played in advocating for, and eventually signing into law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the historical statute certainly transcends the employment space, its impact on the workplace has been profound. It was perhaps particularly fitting that observance ceremonies for President Bush in Washington, D.C., commenced on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. President Bush’s son, George W. Bush, carried on his father’s legacy by signing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) into law during his own presidency.

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