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Senate will Begin Voting on Funding Bill on Monday

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The Senate gave unanimous consent Thursday to establish the first procedural vote Monday on a House appropriations bill to be used to pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded.

As Sen. Richard Shelby surmised in a Wednesday conference call with Business Council of Alabama members, the Senate would begin voting next week. Some senators were cautious there would be an agreement by today but a text of the deal would be released prior to the vote, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

Democrats said they will block spending measure that includes restrictions on funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico as part of the funding package to combat the spread of the Zika virus.

The Senate’s stop-gap funding bill is expected to be good through Dec. 9. Some House conservatives want a longer extension in order to avoid a lame-duck session, The Hill reported.

If a compromise is reached, the Senate could leave Washington, D.C., sometime next week in order to give senators campaign time prior to Nov. 8.


U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WARNS OF JOINT-EMPLOYER STANDARD

The National Labor Relations Board’s new “joint employer” standard is being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by members of the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Joint employer simply means that two separate businesses, such as a temp agency and a company that obtains workers from the agency, share legal responsibility for the same employee. For more than 30 years, the NLRB had used a fairly simple test for determining joint employer status. This was based on “direct and immediate” control, the U.S. Chamber reported.

For example, if two separate businesses had actual authority over pay, hiring, firing, discipline, and day-to-day supervision, they would be considered joint employers. If they didn’t, they weren’t. This clear standard helped facilitate business models like franchising and subcontracting – models that have led to greater efficiency, flexibility and ultimately growth.

In 2015, the NLRB threw out the clear standard for determining what a joint employer is and replaced “direct and immediate” control standard with an “indirect” control standard. “If such language can be used to find joint employment status, the reach of the NLRB’s new standard is almost limitless,” the Chamber said.

For example, a larger employer could be held responsible for unfair labor practice charges filed against a franchisee or subcontractor. A business might also be dragged into collective bargaining negotiations with a unionized joint employer. Secondary picketing and boycotts, illegal when conducted against neutral employers, would be fair game with joint employers. Finally, small businesses that are lumped together with larger ones could face new liabilities under Obamacare and other laws with small business exemptions. No one knows yet how to operate in this environment.

The Chamber urges Congress to take action to return common sense to this aspect of labor law. Left unchecked, the new liabilities created by the NLRB will be to the detriment of workers, employers, and the economy.


SURVEY SHOWS REGULATIONS AND HEALTH CARE COSTS ARE MANUFACTURERS’ TOP CONCERNS

The National Association of Manufacturers in its third-quarter 2016 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey says that concern over rising health care costs and regulatory compliance are the top barriers to growth for manufacturers.

“Manufacturers continue to grapple not just with global economic challenges, but also with policy headwinds coming from Washington,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “Regulatory barriers, rising health care costs, a broken tax code and a lack of movement on free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership haven’t helped either. Policymakers in Washington can’t fix every problem, but they can certainly take action to give manufacturing-and the larger economy-a boost.”

NAM member comments include “federal regulations and mandated employee health benefit costs are biggest areas of concern,” “government regulations and current or proposed tax rates are making it more and more difficult for U.S. companies to stay competitive globally,” and “too much time spent on regulation compliance, taxes and not enough resources dedicated to growth of the business.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Business Groups Ramp up Push for Ex-Im Bank to Make Larger Loans
The Hill (Needham 9/12) “A growing number of business groups are urging House and Senate leaders to approve a spending bill allowing the Export-Import Bank to approve larger loans again. Fifteen groups on Monday sent a letter calling on congressional leadership to include a temporary change to the agency’s quorum requirement for its board of directors in a continuing resolution (CR) so that it may again review transactions over $10 million.

“Under current law, the five-member board must have three people to evaluate transactions above that level. There are only two board members now. In a Monday letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the groups argue that without the change, U.S. businesses ‘are at a significant disadvantage to global competitors who are aggressively supported by their own governments’ export credit agencies.

“The heads of two groups – the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – got the ball rolling last week by urging Congress to pass a CR with the temporary change to the board’s requirements. The business groups say that since the 82-year-old agency has robust support in Congress and that a CR is the best way to solve the issue amid an impasse in the Senate over approving a third board member.

“Business groups and lawmakers supportive of the Ex-Im Bank are pursuing the provision as a way to get around Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has refused to take action on the nomination of Mark McWatters, a Republican who once worked for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).”

 

A Bad Precedent and a Growing Threat to Manufacturing
National Association of Manufacturers (Micetich 9/14) “National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons issued the following statement after the Obama administration moved to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline: ‘The Obama administration just made the decision to put politics above jobs, trying to stall, obfuscate and scapegoat in order to block this job-creating energy infrastructure project. The administration has ignored the rule of law because it doesn’t like the court’s findings that the project can move forward.

“‘This sets a bad precedent that could threaten future infrastructure projects of all types. For manufacturers, this means the men and women supplying steel pipe, coatings, construction equipment, compressor motors, gauges and instruments, sand and gravel and other key components to the Dakota Access project are sitting idle, without work’.

“‘We understand there are concerns, and above all, we want discussions about this project to be peaceful, productive and respectful. But it’s time for the administration to put its political agenda aside. It’s time to put people to work, including the many manufacturers who will build the components of this project. Let’s come together to move forward, create jobs, strengthen our economy and boost manufacturing’.”

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Dana Beyerle
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