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House Votes to Block Blacklisting Rule

Today, the House voted to protect workers, taxpayers, small businesses, and our Armed Forces by passing a resolution of disapproval (H. J. Res 37) to block the Obama administration’s flawed “blacklisting” rule. The rule would make a system designed to protect workers less efficient, undermine our nation’s military readiness, and limit the ability of small businesses to compete for federal contracts.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, released the following statement following passage of the resolution:

This flawed and unnecessary blacklisting rule has always been a solution in search of a problem. As we’ve said repeatedly, the best way to ensure fair pay and safe workplaces is to enforce the existing suspension and debarment system. This rule would make that system simply unworkable, which would hurt workers, taxpayers, small businesses, and our Armed Forces. Congress has a responsibility to put a stop to misguided rules, and today’s vote is an important step. Let’s reject this flawed rule and encourage the new administration to use the tools it already has to protect workers and hold contractors accountable.

BACKGROUND: In 2014, former President Obama signed Executive Order 13673, adding a new layer of bureaucracy onto a federal procurement system already plagued by delays and inefficiencies. The executive order directed federal agencies to change the procurement regulations. The resulting “blacklisting” rule requires employers bidding on federal contracts to disclose violations and alleged violations of 14 different federal labor laws and similar state labor laws. Employers would also be required to determine a subcontractors’ or suppliers’ compliance with complex labor laws. The rule, which was recently blocked by a federal district court, is fatally flawed.

  • The blacklisting rule violates due process and holds federal agencies to a different, lesser standard. The executive order empowers agencies to deny contracts for “alleged” violations of various federal labor laws, setting a startling precedent that employers are guilty until proven innocent.
  • The blacklisting rule threatens the vital resources the Armed Forces need to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe. According to the Professional Services Council, the executive order will “slow the [Department of Defense] acquisition process and harm the Department’s ability to meet its mission.”
  • The best way to ensure fair pay and safe workplaces is to enforce existing suspension and debarment rules. In 2015, federal agencies issued 918 suspensions and 1,873 debarments to employers bidding on federal contracts — including 244 suspensions and 859 debarment actions by the Department of Defense.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress may pass a resolution of disapproval to prevent, with the full force of law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a rule that is substantially the same without congressional authorization. The resolution introduced by House and Senate leaders would remove the blacklisting rule from the Federal Acquisition Regulation and prevent future administrations from promulgating a similar rule.

To read the resolution, click here.

To read a fact sheet, click here.