Senate Republicans Push Back on Overtime Rule

Congressional GOP Remains Opposed to Julie Su’s Agenda
Mike Braun, Julie Su
Sen. Mike Braun is a critic of acting Secretary Julie Su's agenda. (Braun by; Su by Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

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Efforts to chip away at acting Secretary Julie Su’s agenda at the Department of Labor remain a priority for congressional Republicans.

A resolution targeting a new rule that expands eligibility for overtime compensation is their most recent target of pushback on department policy.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) is leading the effort. He is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“When the free market sets the price of labor, opportunity and prosperity are the result,” Braun said in a statement accompanying the measure last month. “When the federal government sets the price of labor by one-size-fits-all mandates, small businesses are forced to fire employees and close shop to make ends meet. We’re leading a challenge to this new [President Joe] Biden rule because this White House’s out-of-touch economic policies have been an unparalleled disaster for American wages.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the panel’s ranking member, is co-leading the effort. More than two dozen Republicans have endorsed the measure. “Americans are already struggling to make ends meet under ‘Bidenomics.’ With inflation at 40-year highs and millions dropping out of the workforce, Biden’s overtime rule pours gasoline on the fire,” Cassidy said, adding: “Businesses shouldn’t be forced to choose between laying off their workers and raising prices on families.”

The Republicans’ procedural Congressional Review Act specific to the department’s rule increasing the minimum threshold for overtime pay awaits consideration in the Senate.

Braun also led the bicameral introduction of legislation seeking to block the rule. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, is sponsoring the companion bill in the House. “The downstream impacts from this rule will include more inflation and pain for those already suffering from unsound economic policy. I want to thank Sen. Braun for his leadership as we work to block this excessive and misguided rule,” Walberg said June 5. The bill has yet to reach the president’s desk.

Finalized in the spring, the department stated that beginning Jan. 1 most salaried workers earning less than $1,128 per week will be eligible for overtime compensation. “Too often, lower-paid salaried workers are doing the same job as their hourly counterparts but are spending more time away from their families for no additional pay. That is unacceptable. The Biden-Harris administration is following through on our promise to raise the bar for workers who help lay the foundation for our economic prosperity,” Su said April 23.

“The department’s new overtime rule was developed based on almost 30 listening sessions across the country and the final rule was issued after reviewing over 33,000 written comments. We heard from a wide variety of members of the public who shared valuable insights to help us develop this administration’s overtime rule,” according to background information the department provided.

For more than a year, most congressional Republicans have expressed criticism and voiced concerns about Su’s management at the department. Senior GOP members even called for her resignation. A measure that would prevent a Labor Department acting head from serving in that capacity indefinitely awaits consideration.

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Su was confirmed in 2021 as deputy secretary and she awaits a vote before the Senate on her renomination to officially hold the agency’s top post. Department succession policy allows for Su to lead the agency in an acting capacity based on her Senate confirmation as deputy secretary.

American Trucking Associations is among stakeholders opposed to Su’s renomination. ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said earlier this year: “No matter how many times she’s renominated, Julie Su’s record remains a huge red flag for our industry. … We continue to oppose her nomination as she continues to avoid the tough questions to which we and the American people deserve answers.”