White House threatens veto of GOP working families bill

Updated
U.S. Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
U.S. Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

The White House has threatened to veto a GOP-sponsored bill that would ostensibly allow workers to trade their overtime pay for comp time. The administration said in a statement that the legislation is “misrepresenting itself,” and undermining existing worker protections.

The Working Families Flexibility Act, which could be voted on as soon as this week, gives workers the option of receiving comp time in exchange for forgoing overtime pay. Critics of the legislation say that it puts more power in the hands of employers, who will be able to pay less in overtime and determine how comp time is distributed.

“If the President were presented with this legislation in its current form, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” a statement from the administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said.

The act “could be read to provide employers broad discretion to deny requests to use compensatory time off if it would unduly disrupt their operations,” according to the OMB memo. “Additionally, the bill fails to specify what remedy would be available to those employees who are denied their requests.”

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has supported the bill as part of his efforts to “repackage conservative principles through a familial lens.” The bill’s first incarnation was proposed in 1997, when President Bill Clinton also threatened a veto.

“Although I am prepared to support and sign a responsible comp time bill, I intend to veto any legislation that fails to guarantee real choice for employees, real protection against employer abuse, and preservation of fair labor standards such as the 40 hour work week and the right to overtime pay,” he wrote at the time.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the legislation on April 17.

“Today we’ve taken an important step toward providing workers the flexibility they need to better balance the needs of family and work,” said committee chair John Kline, R-Minn., in a statement announcing the committee’s decision. “An outdated federal policy shouldn’t deny workers the chance to spend more time with their children, attend parent-teacher conferences, or care for an aging relative. This is a commonsense proposal that is desperately needed in today’s workplaces.”

White House threatens veto of GOP working families bill

Updated