Beltway Buzz, November 1, 2019
We Juan It!
The Washington Nationals are World Series champions, and it is Soto-rific. This is the first World Series championship victory for Washington, D.C., since 1924, when Firpo Marberry and the Washington Senators beat High Pockets Kelly and the New York Giants in seven games. Of course, everything in D.C. boils down to politics, so it was no surprise to see D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton put in a plug for D.C. statehood while celebrating the Nationals’ win on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Rescinds Fed Contractor EO.
On October 31, 2019, President Trump rescinded Executive Order 13495 (Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts), which requires that successor federal contractors in certain circumstances offer a right of first refusal of employment to employees employed under the predecessor contract. That executive order was one of three labor-related executive orders that President Obama signed on January 30, 2009—just days from the start of his first term. The other two executive orders—which are still in effect—prohibit federal contractors from seeking reimbursement of labor relations costs undertaken to persuade employees to exercise or not exercise their rights to join a union and also require federal contractors to post a notice of employees’ rights to unionize and participate in protected and concerted activity.
Premium Processing Fee Increase.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week that the premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410 for Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). USCIS last increased the premium processing fee in October 2018. According to the notice, USCIS intends to “use the funds generated by the fee increase to provide certain premium processing services to business customers and to make infrastructure improvements in the adjudications and customer service processes.” The new fee becomes effective on December 2, 2019.
EEO-1? Not Done.
On October 29, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to continue to complete the collection of 2017 and 2018 wage and hour data by January 31, 2020. In doing so, the court rejected the EEOC’s recent plea to halt the collection as of the September 30, 2019, submission deadline due to increased costs and because approximately 81 percent of eligible filers have submitted the data. The order comes while the case is on appeal, and the EEOC’s proposal to nix the data collection in the future is still open for public comment.
DOL Reg Proposals Advance.
Despite well-documented personnel and leadership changes over the past several months, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to move forward with its regulatory agenda. For example, late last week, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed its review of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division’s proposal “to grant employers greater flexibility to provide additional forms of compensation to employees whose hours vary from week to week.” Also last week, OIRA completed its review of a proposal from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) concerning the obligations of TRICARE or other healthcare providers as covered federal contractors or subcontractors. The proposal is expected to clarify longstanding confusion and debate as to whether healthcare providers fall under OFCCP jurisdiction merely by participating in the TRICARE health program. OIRA’s release of these proposals means that the DOL could open these proposals for public comment any day now.
Volstead Act Anniversary.
This week marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Volstead Act, which ushered in Prohibition in the United States. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the bill on October 27, 1919, but the Senate overrode the veto the following day, and the Volstead Act became law. While the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors,” it granted Congress and the states “concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The Volstead Act, named after House Judiciary Committee chairman and temperance proponent Andrew Volstead of Minnesota, set the terms and procedures for carrying out the prohibition of alcohol. For example, the act defined “intoxicating liquor” as any beverage containing by volume 0.5 percent alcohol or greater and allowed exceptions for physician-prescribed whiskey. The Volstead Act went into effect in 1920. Of course, it is remembered as a classic example of how legislation can result in unintended consequences.