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Kline Statement: Hearing on "The Administration's Overtime Rule and its Consequences for Workers, Students, Nonprofits, and Small Businesses"

In July 2011, Chairman Walberg held a subcommittee hearing to examine whether the Fair Labor Standards Act was meeting the needs of the twenty-first century workplace. The answer was a resounding ‘no.’ We learned the rules implementing the law are too complex, bureaucratic, and outdated. Trial lawyers profit while workers are denied their fair share under a broken regulatory system.

That is precisely why this committee—more specifically, Republicans on this committee— have repeatedly called for a responsible effort to streamline and modernize federal overtime rules. Workplaces are more dynamic and innovative than they have ever been, and the needs of today’s workers are much different than for those who worked when the law was written more than 75 years ago. Workers and employers have a better shot to succeed when federal policies reflect the changing realities of our economy.

The Department of Labor had an opportunity to build consensus around a set of responsible reforms that would have garnered broad, bipartisan support. Yet the department chose once again to take an extreme, partisan approach that will hurt the very people they claim they want to help. This rule will disrupt the lives of countless individuals and do nothing to remove the regulatory landmines that are harmful to workers and employers.

That’s what small business owners, college and university administrators, state and local officials, and heads of nonprofit organizations have warned about. But these warnings were ignored. That’s right—the department ignored the voices of those who must implement this rule in their workplaces, on their campuses, and as they serve the needs of people in their communities.

Instead, the department listened to the same progressive voices who have been wrong for so long about how to address the challenges facing working families. The same voices who claimed a trillion dollar “stimulus” bill would create jobs and deliver a strong economy. It didn’t. The same voices who claimed a government takeover of health care would lower costs and protect the health care people liked. It hasn’t. Those same voices now claim this overtime rule will provide a pay raise for millions of Americans. It won’t.

The regulatory onslaught under this administration is unprecedented. The president and his liberal allies have advanced new rules governing retirement advice, health and safety, energy, union organizing, federal contracting, financial markets, health care, and wages. Still there are those who can’t understand why the economy is anemic, or why job growth is sluggish, or why wages are largely stagnant.

Now we have an overtime rule that will do more harm than good, particularly for lower-income workers and younger Americans. Chairman Walberg has led our efforts in this area for years, and I would like to yield to him to explain in more detail the costly consequences of this final rule.