Congress recently began the process to legislatively overturn the regulations implementing President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can dismantle regulations that were finalized in the waning days of a presidential administration. Our colleagues in the Public Policy & Government Affairs practice provide some details of the CRA here and here. The process begins with a joint “resolution of disapproval” in Congress. If the resolution is signed into law — a safe assumption when the presidency changes parties — the underlying regulation has no effect, and any “substantially similar” rule cannot be re-issued without specific re-authorization legislation.
On Thursday, the House passed the disapproval resolution for the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulations on an almost straight party-line vote. It now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate and then to the White House, where the President’s advisors would recommend that he sign it.
Most of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces provisions had already been blocked since the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a nation-wide injunction in October 2016, but this legislative strategy would dismantle the regulations altogether. A portion of the regulations regarding pay transparency was allowed to take effect for new solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017, but that portion will be overturned by this disapproval legislation. Contractors should remember, however, that separate Labor Department regulations govern pay transparency. Those regulations still remain in effect.