House Releases Labor Budget Bill — And It’s Even Worse than Trump’s

OSHA Budget: MournYou thought Trump’s budget proposal was bad for OSHA? Well, our Republican friends in the House of Representatives have issued a bill that’s even worse, although we don’t have all of the details yet.

The subcommittee’s mark-up session doesn’t start until 4:30 this afternoon, and we still may not know the details until the full committee acts, possibly next week.

This is what we know (and read down for a rare bid of goodish news):

OSHA:  Trump proposed an OSHA budget of $543,257,000. The Republican bill provides OSHA with only $531,470,000 — almost $12 million less than Trump requested and  $21 million, or 4% less than the current budget. We don’t have all of the details yet, but we do know that they are essentially flat funding the state plans, and we know that they are eliminating the Susan Harwood Worker Training Grants. (We know this because Harwood funding has previously been stipulated in the bill language. It’s not there any more.)

More significant cuts will mean even fewer OSHA inspectors — which mean fewer inspections and more workers who will get hurt, get sick and die in the workplace.

So by process of elimination, we know that if they’re putting the same $100,800,000 million into state plans, and they’re clearly going to increase compliance assistance, that leaves only enforcement and standards that they can plunder to make up the difference.  OSHA was already looking at a 10% cut in enforcement staff from 2016 just based on a flat budget. Obviously, more significant cuts will mean even fewer OSHA inspectors — which mean fewer inspections and more workers who will get hurt, get sick and die in the workplace. (The AFL-CIO already estimates that it would take OSHA 159 years to inspect every workplace in the country and that promises to get much worse.)

MSHA:  MSHA is facing a $14 million cut ($15.2 million below Trump’s request) which, according the committee press release,  “reflects the declining need for MSHA inspection activities due to the lower levels of mining across the country and especially in coal production.”

NIOSH: There is some good(ish)news here.  Trump had proposed a hefty $135 million (40%) cut in NIOSH’s budget. The committee bill restores most of that, only cutting $10 million (3%) from NIOSH’s budget. (It’s a sad day when a $10 million cut can be labeled “good  news.”)

DOL: In other Labor news, the bill also contains a rider prohibiting DOL from enforcing its Fiduciary Rule, requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts.  The rule had come partially into effect, although Acosta launched the regulatory process to weaken the rule, while promising to enforce the parts in effect. Passage of this rider would mean that the Department would not be able to even enforce the part of the rule that is in effect.

Job Corps is also being cut $16 million over the 2017 enacted level, but $239.7 million above Trump’s budget request.

The full committee is expected to meet soon, and it’s possible there will be more poison-pill riders there. Stay tuned, and keep calling.

Alex Acosta Budget MSHA NIOSH OSHA

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