The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump signs bill that kills Obama-era Worker Safety Rule

President Trump signs a bill that rescinds an Obama administration rule requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose their labor violations in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

President Trump signed a bill Monday that killed an Obama-era worker safety rule that required businesses competing for large federal contracts to disclose and correct serious safety and other labor law violations.

Earlier this month, the Senate voted to eliminate the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, which applied to contracts valued at $500,000 or more. Votes on the bill in both the House and Senate divided along party lines.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulation was finalized in August but most of it was never implemented. Within days of it being finalized, the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) sued, securing a temporary injunction that prohibited the federal government from implementing it.

In a last-minute effort to fight for the rule earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a staff report that showed 66 of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors have at some point violated federal wage and hour laws. Since 2015, the report says, more than a third of the 100 largest OSHA penalties have been imposed on federal contractors.

Warren criticized the Republican-led effort during a speech on the Senate floor moments before the vote. “Instead of creating jobs or raising wages,” she said, “they’re trying to make it easier for companies that get big-time, taxpayer-funded government contracts to steal wages from their employees and injure their workers without admitting responsibility.”

Hours later, the bill passed. On Monday, just after Trump signed the bill that eliminated the rule, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised Trump’s decision, saying the rule unfairly placed businesses on a “blacklist” and that it “unjustly blocks many businesses accused of violating labor laws from federal contracts.”