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Public Statements

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 09, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 754 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 5006.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, for over half a century, the rules governing overtime pay eligibility have been pretty clear, and eligible employees are paid time and a half for every hour of work more than 40 hours in a single week. This, in fact, is a landmark in modern economic history.

I ask my colleagues to support the Obey amendment to stop the rollback of these rules, to stop these rules that would hurt American workers and their families. Make no mistake about it, this anti-overtime rule is a major step backward in the fight to reward work. I consider it an attack on the middle class that will lead to greater economic inequality.

Families all across America in all sorts of job categories depend on overtime pay to make ends meet. The families that will lose overtime protection will find that they have to work longer hours for significantly less money. Overtime pay accounts for approximately a quarter of the income, more than $8,000 a year for families who earned overtime in 2000. As the pool of workers who are exempt from overtime is expanded, those workers who are not directly affected by the regulation will lose income as their opportunity to work overtime is diminished. This is consistent with what the majority has been doing in so many other areas, pushing compensatory time instead of pay, refusing to implement a living wage, and failing to extend unemployment benefits. They will say they are being compassionate, that, by their way of thinking, paying the workers less will make it easier for the employers to hire more workers and therefore more people will be paid.

This is bogus economics. This was debunked a century ago when it was shown that Henry Ford, by paying his workers more, he actually raised the economic activity. Claiming that lowering wages will somehow help working families ignores a century of economic understanding. It is a shame that at the same time the majority leadership is proposing to eliminate overtime pay for millions of workers, they are enacting huge tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Both proposals hurt hard-working middle class families.

Let me tell my colleagues, if we take away this overtime pay, these families will again be given the short shrift.

I urge my colleagues to support the Obey amendment.

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