House Passes Byrne’s Bill to Stop Unlawful Power Grab
The House of Representatives today passed legislation authored by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) to block an unlawful regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The bill, House Joint Resolution 83, passed by a vote of 231 to 191 and now moves to the Senate for consideration. The White House has already issued a Statement of Administration policy announcing that the Trump Administration “strongly supports” passage of Rep. Byrne’s bill.
Byrne said: “OSHA’s power grab is not only unlawful, it does nothing to improve workplace safety. What it does do is force small businesses to confront even more unnecessary red tape and unjustified litigation. As Republicans have been saying for years, OSHA should collaborate with employers to prevent injuries and illnesses in workplaces and address any gaps in safety that might exist.
“I am pleased the House has acted to block this unlawful rule, and look forward to continuing our efforts to support proactive safety policies that help keep America’s workers safe.”
Among the numerous groups supporting Rep. Byrne’s legislation are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Home Builders, Associated Builders and Contractors, American Trucking Associations, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Federation of Independent Business, and National Retail Federation.
BACKGROUND: Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employers are required to record and maintain a log of workplace injuries and illnesses that occur during a five-year span. While OSHA inspectors have long used this information to enhance health and safety protections in America’s jobsites, the law explicitly says that employers can only be cited for record-keeping violations within a six-month time period. Yet during the waning days of the Obama administration, OSHA rewrote the law through regulatory fiat. The agency finalized the “Volks” rule, which extends the threat of penalty up to five years.
Two federal appeals courts have rejected the very policies reflected in the rule after a Louisiana construction company was cited for paperwork errors occurring nearly five years prior. “We do not believe Congress expressly established a statute of limitations only to implicitly encourage the Secretary to ignore it,” the D.C. Circuit Court noted. The “Volks” rule:
- Is an unlawful power grab. Congress has the authority to write laws — not government agencies. The OSH Act explicitly states that an employer may only be cited for failing to keep proper health and safety records within six months. Two federal appeals courts have agreed that the statute of limitations is six months.
- Does nothing to improve worker health and safety. Instead of focusing on paperwork errors that occurred five years ago, OSHA should spend its time and resources addressing current working conditions and preventing injuries and illnesses from happening in the future.
- Creates regulatory confusion for small businesses. By finalizing an unlawful regulation, the Obama administration created significant uncertainty for employers. The rule particularly hurts small business owners who will face a confusing maze of record-keeping standards and unwarranted litigation.
Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress may pass a resolution of disapproval to prevent, with the full force of law, a federal agency from implementing a rule or issuing a rule that is substantially the same without congressional authorization. Chairman Byrne’s resolution (H. J. Res 83) would block OSHA’s “Volks” rule from taking effect and prevent future administrations from promulgating a similar rule.
For a copy of the resolution, click here.
To read a fact sheet, click here.