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Congress rolls back fed contracting 'blacklisting' rule

March 8, 2017 (Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Senate has passed a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving the Aug. 25, 2016, “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” federal acquisition regulation.

Approving the CRA on March 7, the Senate now sends it for President Trump’s signature in order to officially roll back the final rule, which has not yet gone into effect because of a Texas federal court’s preliminary injunction. In addition, the CRA prevents future administrations from promulgating a similar rule.

“The Statement of Administration Policy on the resolution stated the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulation would ‘bog down federal procurement with unnecessary and burdensome processes,’ ” said David Berteau, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. “PSC agrees and urges President Trump to sign the resolution expeditiously to remove this significant overhang from the acquisition process.”

Introduced to the Senate by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the resolution blocks a regulation that has come to be known as the “blacklisting” rule and requires employers bidding on federal contracts to disclose violations and alleged violations of 14 different federal labor laws and similar state labor laws. Employers would also be required to determine a subcontractors’ or suppliers’ compliance with complex labor laws.

According to a statement from Sens. Johnson and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the executive order’s changes to the procurement regulations was flawed because it “violates due process and holds federal agencies to a different, lesser standard” and “threatens the vital resources the armed forces need to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.”

The senators promote enforcing existing suspension and debarment rules rather than “adding a new layer of bureaucracy onto a federal procurement system already plagued by delays and inefficiencies.”

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