On February 2, 2017, the House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval (H.J. Res. 37) pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, to preclude enforcement of the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council’s final rule implementing President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” executive order. As outlined in greater detail in earlier posts, the rule would require offerors on contracts or subcontracts estimated to exceed $500,000 to disclose “any administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment” against the contractor under fourteen enumerated labor and employment statutes and Executive Orders (“labor law violations”), for the three years preceding the contract bid. These disclosures, and any additional information supplied, would be taken into account by contracting officers in making responsibility determinations and awarding contracts.
In October 2016, a federal judge in Texas enjoined most parts of the rule. This resolution, however, would officially remove the rule from the Federal Acquisition Regulation and prevent its future enforcement. A largely party line vote approved the resolution, 236-187. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said of the passage:
This flawed and unnecessary blacklisting rule has always been a solution in search of a problem. As we’ve said repeatedly, the best way to ensure fair pay and safe workplaces is to enforce the existing suspension and debarment system. This rule would make that system simply unworkable, which would hurt workers, taxpayers, small businesses, and our Armed Forces. Congress has a responsibility to put a stop to misguided rules, and today’s vote is an important step. Let’s reject this flawed rule and encourage the new administration to use the tools it already has to protect workers and hold contractors accountable.
A similar Senate resolution (S.J. Res. 12), introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), is pending before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.