Congressional Update: Debt Limit Crisis and Reconciliation Plans (Beltway Buzz, Oct 15, 2021) – Jobs and HR

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United States: Congressional Update: Debt Limiting Crisis and Reconciliation Plans (Beltway Buzz, October 15, 2021)

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The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing work and employment news inside the Beltway and clarifying how what’s happening in Washington, DC could impact your business.


Congressional Update: Debt Limitation Crisis and Reconciliation Plans. The US Senate and US House of Representatives were officially out this week, but the US Congress made news anyway.

  • On October 12, 2021, the House passed a $ 480 billion debt limit increase to narrowly avoid a first default on the country’s debts. The Senate approved the increase on a party line vote last week. As the Buzz mentioned earlier, the fix is ​​only temporary and Congress will need to reconsider the matter in December 2021 or January 2022.
  • On October 11, 2021, President Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a letter “dear colleague” outlining the way forward for the Build Back Better Act (the “human infrastructure bill” that Democrats are pursuing through the budget reconciliation process). Seeking to reduce the overall costs of the bill in order to gain buy-in from all Democrats, President Pelosi says in the letter: A transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly tackling the climate crisis . “What remains in the invoice and what ends up on the cutting room floor remains to be seen.

OSHA COVID-19 ETS coming soon. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent the long-awaited temporary emergency COVID-19 (ETS) vaccination standard to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) this week. With
The OIRA review being the last major step in the regulatory process, the ETS will likely be published shortly. Even at this late stage, the substance of the ETS is not public. As a reminder, the ETS – which will enter into force as soon as it is published in Federal Register and will not be a proposed rule – should require employers with 100 or more employees to have their employees vaccinated or undergo weekly tests.

Texas Showdown. Of course, federal authorities aren’t the only regulators setting workplace vaccine policies. Tiffany Cox Stacy and Christine Bestor Townsend have an excellent analysis of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s recent ban on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements. The federal government going one way on immunization requirements and Texas lawmakers going the other way has obviously confused many employers and raised questions that will likely end up in court. The Buzz suspects that we will be hearing a lot about the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution in the coming months.

DHS posts memo on jobsite raids … and more?On October 12, 2021, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released a memorandum titled “Workplace Enforcement: The Strategy to Protect the US Labor Market, US Workplace Conditions, and the Dignity of the Individual”. The memo directs the heads of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States Immigration and Customs Administration (ICE), and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to “not no longer carry out mass operations on construction sites “and” maximize the impact of … [enforcement] efforts focusing on unscrupulous employers who exploit the vulnerability of undocumented workers.[i]Increase workers’ willingness to report violations of the law by exploitative employers and to cooperate in investigations of employment and labor standards. “

While the note focuses on immigration-related workplace law enforcement operations, the reading between the lines perhaps signals a broader and more aggressive agency enforcement model that transcends the US Department of Homeland Security. Indeed, the note states: “[W]We must adopt immigration enforcement policies to facilitate the important work of the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to enforce wage protections, workplace safety, labor rights and other laws and standards . “

EBSA offers an ESG rule. The US Department of Labor continues its efforts to reverse the policies of the Trump era. This week, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) offers rescind regulations that require trustees of private sector employee benefit plans to consider only “pecuniary factors” when making investments. Instead, the proposed rule “makes it clear that climate change and other ESG factors [environmental, social, or governance] are often significant and that, in many cases, the trustees
[sic] should take climate change and other ESG factors into account when assessing the risks and returns of investments. Stakeholder comments are expected no later than December 13, 2021.

Congress and the flu. COVID-19 is of course not the first public health crisis that Congress has faced. When the 1918 influenza pandemic hit, Washington, DC, was hit hard. Just as the current Congress adapted its rules and protocols to keep lawmakers safe from COVID-19, the House of Representatives in 1918 took similar flu precautions. With many members, including President James “Champ” Clark (D-MO) and Majority Leader Claude Kitchin (D-NC) absent due to illness, the House closed its doors and essentially ceased to function in the past. early October 1918. But with the need to take action to combat the pandemic, the House met in mid-October to pass legislation to bolster the efforts of the US Public Health Service (PHS) to fight the virus. However, with so many members ravaged by the flu (there were less than 50 members present), the House did not have a quorum to pass the law. The problem was solved on October 15, 1918, 103 years ago today, when the few members present agreed to pass a bill by unanimous consent. The “Joint Resolution to Establish a Public Health Service Reserve,” which created a PHS Reserve Corps, represents a first attempt to respond to public health emergencies nationwide.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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