CHN: GOP Leaders Fail To Muster Necessary Votes For Comp Time Bill

Organized Labor Scores Victory In House As Bill is Pulled From the Floor On Wednesday evening, June 4, GOP Leaders pulled legislation from the House floor agenda to allow compensatory time to substitute for overtime pay after admitting that they lacked sufficient support for passage. The Family Time Flexibility Act, which would allow companies to offer employees one and a half hours of compensatory time for every hour of overtime worked, was removed from the House schedule for Thursday morning.

HR 1119 was fiercely opposed by organized labor unions over the past few months, and this represents a clear victory for all groups involved in lobbying against the bill, especially the AFL-CIO who led the charge. Opponents claim that the bill would actually give workers less, not more, flexibility in their jobs because employers will be able to decide when and how to compensate workers. Labor groups and many Democrats contend that overtime pay is the major reason companies limit required overtime now, and warn that the bill could undermine the 40-hour work week by lowering the cost of overtime for companies. This is a point that was hammered home by representatives of labor unions who have been contacting and meeting with Congressional offices for months to build opposition to the bill.

Supporters of the bill believe the measure will be a positive change to current labor laws, empowering parents to have more control over schedules and how they are compensated at work. They have stressed that the comp time agreement would be voluntary and insist that there are sufficient safeguards in the bill to assure that employees are not coerced into taking comp time over overtime pay. This insistence did not convince enough Representatives to pass the bill however.

Republican leaders originally wanted to bring the bill to the floor before Mother’s Day in May to underscore their belief that the bill would give working mothers the flexibility to better provide for their families. But the bill was delayed due to lengthy debates about the tax cut package and other priorities in the House. House Republicans blamed the timing of the bill for the difficulty they faced garnering support. Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO), the House Majority Whip, claimed that scheduling the bill the week after the Memorial Day Recess hampered his efforts to rally House Republicans. The bill was “a tough thing to do the first week back” after the recess, he said.

Right now there are no plans for the future of this bill as Republicans attempt to recover from this setback. But Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH), chairman of the committee that approved the bill 27 – 22 on April 9, is confident that the bill’s supporters will schedule another floor vote. The companion bill (S 317) in the Senate, introduced by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), currently has no markup scheduled, and is expected to receive equally harsh resistance.

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