With the surprise success last week of a House vote on legislation aimed at
derailing the new overtime-exemption rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), lobbyists on both sides of the issue are focusing on the Senate, where
a committee is set to consider a similar measure, the Washington Post reports.
Last week, House Democrats and some of the majority Republicans voted to deny
the Labor Department funds for enforcing the OT regulations, which took effect
The 223-to-193 vote prompted Alfred B. Robinson, Jr., acting administrator
of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division, to issue a statement reminding employers
and employees alike that the new rules--dubbed the Overtime Security Rules
by the department--still remain in effect.
"We will continue to ensure that overtime protections remain in place
so that workers know their rights and employers know their responsibilities,"
In the meantime, business and labor lobbyists are talking tough.
"We will lobby because of the likelihood of additional votes," said
Lee Culpepper, the top lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, a leader
among business groups that favor the new regulations, and therefore oppose the
"We too will continue to try to educate members of Congress," said
Steven J. Pfister of the National Retail Federation, which also supports the
The NFR, like other major business groups, intends to include votes cast on
the issue in its rating system. The system determines which lawmakers will get
financial assistance from the federation's political action committee.
Organized labor is hoping for a repeat of the success it had in the House.
"In the Senate, we're focusing on the Appropriations Committee," said
Bill Samuel, the legislative director for the AFL-CIO, which also has launched
a Web site designed to provide information to workers who are worried about
the new rules and to help them get in touch with their members of Congress and
urge them to block the regulations.
But the Post reports that despite all this activity, neither business nor labor
lobbyists are confident that the issue will be resolved this year. With less
than two months before Election Day, and relatively few legislative days remaining
in the current session of Congress, many obstacles stand in the way of any measure
that would upend the rules. The largest of these roadblocks, both sides agree,
is the threat by President Bush to veto the legislation.