• Buy the Hour
  • February 17, 2004
  • Law Firm: McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC - New Orleans Office
  • The U.S. Senate clocked out on their attempt to halt the omnibus spending bill that includes $11.5 billion in federal funds for the Labor Department for fiscal year 2004, sending the bill to the president for his signature. Republicans succeeded in ending a Democratic filibuster on the measure which was meant to protest the removal of an amendment on the Labor Department's controversial overtime rules and other provisions. Republicans and the Bush administration had threatened to force federal agencies funded by the measure to operate at last year's spending levels until September 30 if Democrats had continued to block the bill.

    In addition to bankrolling the Department of Labor, the appropriations bill provides funds for the departments of Health and Human Services and Education, and includes six appropriations bills that fund the bulk of the domestic budget for the rest of the fiscal year. The rub, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would have withheld funding for any DOL action that would allow it to publish its new FLSA rules in final form at the end of March. "I will not allow the President to hold hostage critical resources for education, AIDS assistance, veteran's health care, conservation and other important initiatives," Harkin said.

    Now the DOL can go forward, but, according to Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.), Democrats plan to file a proposal to rescind the rule under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to remove regulations from the books within a limited time after they are published. Democrats will introduce amendments addressing the overtime proposal on any available legislative vehicles in the Senate, Daschle said, and it seems unlikely that the overtime amendment will go forward in its present form.