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November 24, 2003
Congress Continues Debate on Overtime Changes
Debate among Senate-House negotiators over the inclusion of an amendment to block the Bush administration from revising the rules governing overtime for white-collar workers has stalled legislation that would fund future government programs, the Associated Press reports.

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Opponents of the administration's plan to revise the overtime rules say the proposed rules would cost millions of workers their overtime.

"The regulation which the Department of Labor has is just going to eliminate a lot of overtime for a lot of people, and with the economy being in its current shape, that would be very, very unwise," says Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Employers say the changes are necessary to clarify and update the rules and to reduce the number of lawsuits filed by employees. A number of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have come out in favor of the changes.

Both sides of the issue disagree on the number of white-collar workers that the new rules would affect.

Specter is trying to broker a compromise between congressional supporters and opponents of the administration's plan, according to the AP. He wants a commission to study the issue and propose new rules within 90 days, before the Labor Department issues final rules, the AP reports.

In September, the Senate voted in favor of a measure that blocks the proposed overtime rules covering white-collar workers. Legislators had attached the measure as an amendment to a larger spending bill.

At first, the House voted in favor of supporting the Bush administration's proposal, but the House later reversed its position and signaled its desire to block the changes, in a nonbinding vote.

Congressional negotiators have been trying to agree on a final version of the spending bill to send back to the House and Senate for a vote.

The White House has threatened to veto any legislation that includes a provision that blocks the rules.

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