Senate Passes Byrne’s Bill, Now Heads to President
The Senate today passed legislation authored by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, to block an unlawful regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this month, so it now moves to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The bill, House Joint Resolution 83, passed the Senate by a vote of 50 to 48. 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: “I applaud the Senate for their swift passage of my bill to stop this unlawful power grab. We should be focused on proactive policies that help improve workplace safety instead of punitive rules that do nothing to make American workers safer. We took a major step in the right direction today by restricting OSHA from moving ahead with such a flawed regulation.
“I look forward to President Trump signing my bill in the near future so we can continue moving forward with workplace safety policies that actually make sense and work.”
BACKGROUND: Currently, 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 Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act 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.