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January 20, 2004
Senate Panel to Review Overtime Proposal

The Bush administration's proposal to overhaul the rules governing overtime will face another round of scrutiny today in the Senate, the Chicago Tribune reports.

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After Senate-House negotiators decided to drop a measure that would have blocked Bush's revisions to overtime rules for white-collar workers, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania called a hearing for both sides of the issue to present their cases. Debate on the proposal and other issues has delayed a vote on an omnibus spending bill, according to the newspaper. After the hearing, the Senate will vote on whether to end debate and vote on the spending bill.

Thus far, much of the debate on the overtime rules has centered on the number of workers who would lose their overtime under the plan. The Bush administration contends about 644,000 workers would lose overtime eligibility. Labor groups and many Democrats say the number is closer to 8 million.

The newspaper notes that the Labor Department has faced another round of criticism in recent weeks after the Associated Press reported on the Labor Department's tips for companies to avoid paying overtime to low-wage workers.

The Bush administration's proposal has navigated through many twists before today's hearing, the newspaper notes. In 2003, both the Senate and House voted for a measure blocking the proposed rules covering white-collar workers, albeit the House vote was nonbinding. Senate and House negotiators then dropped that blocking provision from the final version of the bill to which the measure was attached.

Both sides of the debate have vowed to continue to fight if they lose the current round.


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