Senate blocks changes in overtime rules

President Bush’s plan to change overtime pay rules was halted Sept. 10 when the Senate approved an amendment that blocked the administration’s proposal.

The 54-45 vote in favor of the amendment is considered a rare victory for Democrats in the Republican-dominated Senate. Although Bush’s proposal would have expanded overtime protections for low-wage workers, it also would have made it easier for employers to exempt employees who have administrative or professional duties or hold positions of responsibility.

Many in the business sector, including the Associated Builders and Contractors, say the current overtime rules, formed under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, are outdated and should be changed to adapt to today’s workforce.

“ABC is very disappointed by the Senate’s decision to block the Labor Department’s efforts to update overtime wage rules,” said Bill Spencer, vice president of government affairs for ABC. “These regulations have not been changed since 1954. An update is essential for increasing salary thresholds for worker protection, for defining job duties and for clarifying regulatory language.”

The House and Senate will have to work together in negotiating the appropriation bill that includes the overtime wage legislation. Meanwhile, Bush has threatened to veto the entire spending package if the Senate provision opposing the overtime revision remains in it.

For additional stories on the overtime legislation, click on the link to the right.