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September 10, 2004
House Votes to Block New OT Rules

Just weeks after new rules governing overtime went into effect, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 223 to 193 to prevent the Department of Labor from enforcing some of the new rules, the Washington Post reports.

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Twenty-two Republicans joined with Democrats to approve the blocking measure, which was attached as an amendment to a spending bill.

President Bush has threatened to veto any legislation that contains a provision that would block the new overtime rules. The Senate has yet to vote on the spending bill.

The vote marks the second time the House has signaled support for blocking the new overtime rules, which went into effect on August 23. In 2003, House-Senate negotiators dropped a blocking measure from the final version of another spending bill, the newspaper notes. The same thing could occur to the latest blocking measure.

Debate over the new rules centers on the number of workers who will lose overtime eligibility. Democrats claim as many as 6 million workers could lose overtime eligibility. The Bush administration claims about 100,000 workers would lose overtime eligibility, but 1.3 million low-wage workers will gain overtime eligibility.

"There's so much confusion on the facts," says Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, a Republican from New York who voted to block the rules. "We've got to expand eligibility for overtime, and I want to make sure we don't have any unintended effects."

The House measure would allow changes that raise the salary threshold below which workers automatically qualify for overtime.

The Labor Departmene issued a statement opposing the amendment to block the overtime rules.

"The amendment puts the overtime rights of millions of workers in jeopardy by preventing the Department of Labor from enforcing the new rules which protect and strengthen these rights," says Alfred B. Robinson, Jr., acting administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. "Under the amendment, workers who make more than $23,660 will be left to fend for themselves, having to hire expensive trial lawyers to defend their overtime pay."


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