(House of Representatives - May 02, 2017)

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[Pages H3013-H3019]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

           2017, THROUGH MAY 15, 2017; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I 
call up House Resolution 299 and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

                              H. Res. 299

       Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be 
     in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 1180) to 
     amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide 
     compensatory time for employees in the private sector. All 
     points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. 
     In lieu of the amendment in the nature of a substitute 
     recommended by the Committee on Education and the Workforce 
     now printed in the bill, an amendment in the nature of a 
     substitute consisting of the text of Rules Committee Print 
     115-15 shall be considered as adopted. The bill, as amended, 
     shall be considered as read. All points of order against 
     provisions in the bill, as amended, are waived. The previous 
     question shall be considered as ordered on the bill, as 
     amended, and on any further amendment thereto, to final 
     passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of 
     debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and 
     ranking minority member of the Committee on Education and the 
     Workforce; and (2) one motion to recommit with or without 
       Sec. 2.  On any legislative day during the period from May 
     5, 2017, through May 15, 2017--
       (a) the Journal of the proceedings of the previous day 
     shall be considered as approved; and
       (b) the Chair may at any time declare the House adjourned 
     to meet at a date and time, within the limits of clause 4, 
     section 5, article I of the Constitution, to be announced by 
     the Chair in declaring the adjournment.
       Sec. 3.  The Speaker may appoint Members to perform the 
     duties of the Chair for the duration of the period addressed 
     by section 2 of this resolution as though under clause 8(a) 
     of rule I.
       Sec. 4.  It shall be in order at any time on the 
     legislative day of May 4, 2017, or May 5, 2017, for the 
     Speaker to entertain motions that the House suspend the rules 
     as though under clause 1 of rule XV. The Speaker or his 
     designee shall consult with the Minority Leader or her 
     designee on the designation of any matter for consideration 
     pursuant to this section.
       Sec. 5.  The requirement of clause 6(a) of rule XIII for a 
     two-thirds vote to consider a report from the Committee on 
     Rules on the same day it is presented to the House is waived 
     with respect to any resolution reported through the 
     legislative day of May 5, 2017.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Alabama is recognized for 
1 hour.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the 
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis), 
pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During 
consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose 
of debate only.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Alabama?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 299 provides for the 
consideration of H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act. This 
resolution provides for a closed rule since no amendments were 
submitted to the Rules Committee.
  Mr. Speaker, the workforce of the 21st century is a lot different 
from the workforce of the thirties and forties when many of our 
Nation's labor laws were first written. As such, many of these laws are 
outdated and out of touch with the realities facing today's workers.
  For example, in nearly half of two-parent households, both Mom and 
Dad work full time. That is up from roughly 30 percent in 1970. 
Meanwhile, millennials now represent the majority of the workforce.
  Given the changes in the workforce, there are new challenges related 
to the work-family balance. From children's field trips, to taking care 
of an elderly family member, to a single parent juggling different 
tasks while their spouse is on a military deployment, the demands are 
greater than ever. That is where the Working Families Flexibility Act 
comes in.
  This commonsense bill would improve the quality of life for many 
hardworking men and women by removing outdated Federal restrictions 
imposed solely on the private sector.
  Already, workers in the public sector at the Federal, State, and 
local level have the ability to take comp time in lieu of overtime pay 
if they prefer. This bill would give that same option to workers in the 
private sector.
  Here is how it would work. An employee and their employer would come 
together and mutually agree to enter an arrangement where the employee 
would receive time and a half in time off or comp time instead of time-
and-a-half overtime pay. In other words, employees would have the 
choice between paid time off and cash wages for working overtime.
  As I mentioned, this provision is already available for workers in 
the public sector. That is because, in 1985, Congress amended the Fair 
Labor Standards Act to give public sector employees greater 
flexibility. In fact, in a report filed by the House Education and the 
Workforce Committee more than 30 years ago, our Democratic colleagues 
wrote that this change in law recognized the ``mutual benefits'' of 
comp time for State and local governments and outlined the ``freedom 
and flexibility'' comp time would offer public sector workers.
  Shouldn't workers in the private sector be entitled to the same 
freedom and flexibility given to government workers?
  Now, I know some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will 
say this bill is somehow bad for workers. That could not be further 
from the truth. Let me clear up some of the false information put out 
by union bosses and special interest groups.
  First, this proposal is completely voluntary. Both an employee and an 
employer would have to agree to a comp time agreement, and their 
agreement would have to be put in writing.
  Second, no employer can coerce or intimidate their employees into 
taking comp time. An employee who feels they have been mistreated can 
file a charge with the Department of Labor, at no cost, or they can 
bring their own legal action. Employers who take advantage of their 
employees would face the same penalties as they would for other wage 
  Now, as a labor and employment attorney, I have been a part of these 
kind of legal matters in the past, and I can honestly say that no 
sensible employer would take advantage of an employee and risk double 
damages, exorbitant attorney fees, and a legal battle with the Federal 
  Third, employees have control over when to use their comp time, as 
long as reasonable notice is given and the request doesn't unduly 
disrupt the workplace. This is the same standard used in the public 
sector, and it is the same standard used under the Family and Medical 
Leave Act. I imagine it is also

[[Page H3014]]

the same standard used in each of our congressional offices.
  Fourth, this bill includes a 5-year sunset that would require 
Congress to come back and reaffirm this law after reviewing the impact 
of comp time. This would give us the ability to change the law based on 
the real-world impact.
  Fifth, the bill would set the maximum comp time accrual amount at 160 
hours, which is less than what is allowed in the public sector. This 
provision was actually included after Democrats expressed concerns that 
workers would accrue too much comp time.
  Sixth, an employee has the right to cash out their comp time at any 
time and for any reason. This is a decision that the employee alone can 
make. Additionally, at the end of the year, employees would receive a 
cash payment for any unused hours.
  Finally, this is not a far-fetched or radical idea. In fact, 
President Bill Clinton had his own comp time proposal during his 
  So this bill is great for workers and actually gives them greater 
choice and flexibility in the workplace. In fact, our committee, the 
Committee on Education and the Workforce, heard a real-life example of 
how comp time would make life easier for families during a recent 
hearing on the bill. We heard about a clerical worker for a mental 
health company who recently found out she was pregnant and was putting 
in a lot of overtime during a transition to a new computer system. This 
mom-to-be simply wanted to waive the overtime pay and, instead, be 
credited the time for maternity leave.
  As her human resources professional testified: ``I had to explain to 
her that we were unable to do so because it was against the law. It was 
difficult conveying this message to this single mom-to-be who felt she 
should be allowed the option to choose for herself whether to take the 
overtime pay or paid leave when her child was born.''

                              {time}  1245

  That is why this bill is necessary, for people like this working mom. 
That is how this bill will make a real difference.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, I know comp time won't work for every worker or 
family, so if an employee wants to continue receiving time-and-a-half 
overtime pay, then they can continue to do so and this bill will have 
no impact on them. But this bill would create a new option for 
employees to better meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. 
Workers today want and need the type of freedom and flexibility that 
this bill provides. This bill would allow a working mom or dad to put 
in a little extra time at work in order to have that time off to attend 
a child's baseball game, dance recital, or field trip. This is all 
about freedom, flexibility, fairness, and choice.
  Certainly, more work and changes will be needed as we adapt to the 
workforce of the 21st century, and I look forward to learning more 
about proposals from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. But 
the simple fact that there are other proposals out there should not 
stop us from passing this commonsense bill to give working families the 
flexibility they need and deserve.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support House Resolution 299 and 
the underlying bill.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I 
thank the gentleman for yielding me the customary 30 minutes.
  Over the last several months, I have heard from thousands of my 
constituents over the phone, by email, and record numbers at townhalls. 
Frankly, the overwhelming message is frustration with the Trump 
administration and Republicans in Congress--no calls to pass this bill, 
which every group that advocates for workers' rights and unions 
opposes. The people in my district say that, to the contrary, 
Republicans continue to put the priorities of the few over the 
priorities of hardworking Americans.
  People are frustrated that, instead of working with Democrats, 
Republicans are focused on gutting healthcare coverage, increasing 
premiums, and stripping away workers' rights. People in my district, 
across my State, and across the country are worried. The members of our 
immigrant community--our neighbors, family, and friends--will continue 
to be demonized by the President of the United States. So while I don't 
expect this kind of rhetoric or policies to change overnight, I feel it 
is important to share these concerns with this body.
  Now, earlier this week, frankly, I was encouraged. There were some 
signs of positivity. Congressional Democrats and Republicans announced 
a bipartisan funding bill through the end of the year that shows a 
bright spot of what we can do together when we try. I hope we can all 
agree that a government shutdown would be catastrophic. In my district 
alone, I am reminded of the devastating impact of congressional 
inaction when I hosted a townhall in Estes Park just last week. The 
government shutdown in 2013, right during tourist season, cost our 
small and vibrant town nearly half a million dollars in tax revenue and 
millions of dollars in sales, threatening the existence of many Main 
Street businesses that rely on that tourism revenue and keeping Rocky 
Mountain National Park open. Estes Park sits at the entrance of Rocky 
Mountain National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park was closed for 
most of the 16-day shutdown a few years ago.
  But somehow, despite those obvious economic indicators in jobs, 
Donald Trump tweeted just this morning that our country ``needs a good 
  What does that even mean?
  We need a good shutdown like we need a root canal. It would put 
people in my district out of work and cost the private sector millions 
of jobs.
  But I am hopeful now that we will avoid a shutdown; that, thankfully, 
the spending bill, through 2017, prohibits funding on a new border 
wall. It minimizes cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, 
allowing them to continue their work to keep our air and our water 
clean; and Planned Parenthood will continue to receive Federal funding.
  Now, that being said, of course, that budget isn't perfect, and we 
will have the chance to debate it on the floor. The Republicans insist 
on massive government deficit spending for increased military spending 
that digs our mountain of debt for the next generation even bigger. The 
tax-and-spend Republicans continue to spend hand over fist and increase 
the deficit at the cost of the next generation of Americans.
  Now, the bill before us, the Working Families Flexibility Act, is 
another example of Republicans putting ideology and special interests 
over the needs of workers and American families. The trend isn't new. 
It comes out of the typical playbook we have seen for decades.
  In fact, this very bill has been introduced multiple times over the 
past 22 years, never with any success. Nearly identical bills were 
introduced in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 
now 2017. That is 10 times over 22 years. Each time, the bill never 
becomes law, and it won't become law now either. But that is how the 
Republicans want to spend their time in this body when we actually have 
important things to discuss that could become law, like fixing our 
broken immigration system.
  This bill somehow claims to provide employees with more flexibility, 
but the only flexibility are for the bosses. Instead of receiving 
overtime, workers would receive comp time; so their paychecks won't get 
anything out of extra time worked. It is important to note that this 
legislation applies to the private sector and only to employees subject 
to overtime provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The current 
overtime threshold is set at just under $24,000, so only employees that 
make less than $24,000 are affected by this bill. We have tried 
mightily to increase that threshold to keep up with inflation, but we 
have met resistance by the Republicans every step of the way.
  In 2017, the Federal poverty level for a family of four is about 
$24,000. So we are talking about only giving overtime to families that 
are below the poverty level. These families rely on that overtime to 
pay their bills, to pay their rent, and to put food on the table. These 
are the families who would benefit most from receiving overtime pay. In 
fact, a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that 40 
percent of people making less than $22,500 a year worked some overtime 
hours and needed that income to get by. This same 40 percent are the 
very people

[[Page H3015]]

who would lose out under the Republican bill today.
  My Republican colleagues claim that no one is forcing workers to 
accept comp time instead of overtime pay, and comp time is technically 
optional. But this argument represents how out of touch Republicans are 
with the real-life workforce conditions and actual working families.
  In practice, the power differential between employers and employees 
means that many employees would feel obligated to accept comp time 
instead of overtime pay, even if that is not what works best for them. 
Especially in nonunion workplaces, employees could feel pressure to go 
along with their employers' demand or risk not even being offered 
overtime or comp time in the future.
  Now, Republicans have also made the argument that public sector 
workers receive comp time. They are right. But that is not apples to 
apples. Public sector union membership is around 34 percent, and public 
sector employees have vast protections that private sector employees 
lack. As an example, public sector workers can't be fired except for 
good cause, and they have administrative appeal rights. They can't be 
discriminated against based on their desire to take overtime pay 
instead of comp time. Nonunionized private sector workers can be 
legally discriminated against in assigning their hours based on their 
decisions to take comp time versus overtime pay.
  If the Republicans want to enlarge this discussion to include 
providing additional workplace protections to workers in the private 
sector, we are happy to have that discussion both on the committee 
where I serve with my colleague, Mr. Byrne, as well as on the floor of 
the House.
  Republicans somehow argue that this bill provides flexibility for 
workers to get time off, but I will remind my colleagues that nothing 
in the current Fair Labor Standards Act prevents employers from 
offering time off right now. In fact, the Fair Labor Standards Act 
allows the ultimate flexibility. Employers can already provide paid or 
unpaid leave on sick days, maternity, and paternity under the FLSA. 
They don't need this legislation to provide them flexibility. They just 
need to do the right thing.
  This bill also ignores the fact that not all businesses are 
successful. Before coming to Congress, I started several businesses. I 
know this firsthand. A statistic is that 59 percent of restaurant 
businesses go out of business within 3 years. I am zero for two. I 
tried starting two restaurants. They both failed. Maybe that means if I 
try again someday, I will be finally due for a success.
  But what is important is that when something goes out of business, we 
don't leave the employees in the lurch. What you are effectively doing 
here by deferring the overtime pay into potential future time off, if 
the company goes out of business, that employee would have to get in 
line with other creditors and risk never being paid. That is not a 
theoretical risk. The majority of new businesses don't last 10 years. 
They go out of business. Depriving people of the payment for the work 
they have done already is not the right way to treat workers in those 
businesses, and it is not their fault when the bad decision is made by 
their bosses.
  In our committee markup of the bill, my Democratic colleagues offered 
a number of amendments to improve the legislation. Representative 
Bonamici offered an amendment that would allow comp time to earn 
interest before workers' use. Under the current way this bill is 
written, low-wage workers are being asked to give an interest-free loan 
to the company. That doesn't make sense. The amendment didn't pass. If 
employees receive overtime pay, they should receive interest on it as 
  Representative Wilson offered an amendment that would exempt workers 
who are earning less than 2\1/2\ times the minimum wage, so the 
employees earning the very least wouldn't be subject to the law and 
could actually rely on their overtime pay. Again, that amendment was 
rejected by Republicans.
  Representative Blunt Rochester on the committee offered an amendment 
that would limit the bill so only workers eligible for at least 7 days 
of paid sick leave receive comp time. Yet, again, Republicans rejected 
this amendment.
  In total, committee Democrats offered eight amendments to try to 
improve this bill. Every single one was rejected.
  Instead of bringing forward the same, tired, 22-year-old policies 
that I certainly don't hear my constituents requesting, Democrats have 
offered real solutions that benefit working families. Working families 
would benefit from an increase in the overtime salary threshold. Last 
year, the Department of Labor proposed an increase to that threshold, 
and 248,000 workers in Colorado alone would have benefited under that 
  Democrats continue to write bills that provide commonsense solutions. 
We have offered legislation that would provide up to 12 weeks of 
partial-paid parental leave. Only 14 percent of the workforce has paid 
family leave through their employers. As a parent of a 5- and a 2-year-
old, I know how important that is to be able to spend time with your 
newborn kids.
  Democrats have also introduced a bill that would allow employees to 
earn up to 7 sick days per year. That would be a tremendous help to the 
4 in 10 private sector employees who don't have access to any paid sick 
leave at all under current law.
  Democrats have also offered legislation to combat pay discrimination. 
In 2017, women working full time are still paid 80 cents on the dollar 
compared to what men make. Democrats have offered legislation that I am 
proud to cosponsor that would address that kind of pay disparity. Those 
are the kinds of bills that the American people need, that workers 
need, and that we need to help lift people out of poverty and into the 
middle class.

  Today, House Democrats introduced the Equality Act. I was proud to 
join so many of my colleagues in a bipartisan bill to prohibit 
discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Sadly, 
in many States, it is still legal to fire someone just because they are 
gay. The Equality Act would finally extend Federal workplace 
discrimination protections to LGBT Americans in all 50 States and the 
  Finally, House Democrats will soon be introducing the bill that would 
raise the minimum wage. In my home State of Colorado, voters chose to 
raise the wage last November, and many other States have minimum wages 
higher than the Federal minimum wage. But it shouldn't come down to 
what State you live in to determine if you even earn enough to put food 
on the table and pay your rent. It is long past time we update the 
Federal minimum wage, and the Raise the Wage Act would do just that.
  Yet, again, we are offering many solutions that we would love to 
discuss and love to vote on, and, instead, the Republicans are offering 
a bill to strip existing rights away from workers.
  Mr. Speaker, the bill before us represents the same old policies the 
Republicans have offered for decades. They have never succeeded, and 
they won't succeed now. This time around, they are offering a bill that 
might be great for some of the bosses, but it undermines the lives of 
hardworking Americans that keep our country going.
  Mr. Speaker, I oppose the Working Families Flexibility Act and the 
rule before us, and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman referred to an old playbook being used 
here. He is right. It is an old playbook. It is a playbook that was 
used by House Democrats in 1985, by President Bill Clinton during the 
1990s. This is not a partisan playbook. This is actually--or used to 
be, actually--a bipartisan idea to give workers flexibility in the use 
of their time. That doesn't sound radical to me. It is not radical at 
  What has changed is Democrats used to be for this, and now, for 
whatever reason, they are not. They would rather lock workers into 
these restrictive arrangements where you have working mothers, like the 
one I used in my initial remarks, who can't get their flexible time off 
that they want because we do not allow them to do that under the 
Federal Labor Standards Act.
  Comp time is just not technically optional, as my friend said, under 

[[Page H3016]]

law. It is optional by law. It is a voluntary thing by law. There is no 
question about that. Employers cannot coerce or intimidate an employee 
to do that under this law. It is strictly prohibited, and there are 
serious legal repercussions for an employer who attempts to do that.
  There are no differences in the protections for someone under this 
bill and the protections that public employees have when they seek to 
have this sort of flextime under the laws that pertain to them. It is 
the same protection. So it doesn't matter whether you are in the 
private sector or the public sector; under this bill, you are going to 
be protected.

                              {time}  1300

  Let me tell you something, as someone who has practiced in this area. 
It is not an idle threat to an employer to face a regulatory proceeding 
from the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor or to face a 
private lawsuit. Those are a big deal. If you lose, you have to not 
only pay double damages, you have got to pay the employees' attorneys 
fees, which can be significant. No sensible employer is going to go out 
there and intimidate and coerce and think they can get away with it. 
They can't.
  Wages, under our bankruptcy laws, are the first priority of what is 
paid out during the winding up of a bankruptcy proceeding. Before any 
other creditor is paid, wages get paid. In my experience, I don't 
remember wages ever not being paid in a bankruptcy. That is always 
assumed. They get taken care of quickly. Most employers do the right 
  My friend talked about employers needing to do the right thing. Most 
employers do the right thing. Just like I know my colleague, when he 
had a business in the private sector, did the right thing by his 
employees. Most employers do. Yet too often in this body, we act as if 
the assumption is that employers are going to do the wrong thing, and 
then we come down with this heavy-handed overregulation, punitive 
approach that restricts the freedom of both employers and--let's get 
back to it--the workers themselves to work these things out.
  This is a commonsense solution to a real problem in the new workplace 
of the 21st century, where most moms and dads are working and where we 
have this new millennial generation that wants flexibility. They expect 
it. When you go to them and tell them: Oh, you can't have it because it 
is a Federal law, they don't understand.
  I have got to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I don't understand. Yes, I 
understand that this law was put together in the 1930s. Maybe it made 
sense for the workplace in the thirties, but it doesn't make sense for 
the workplace of the 21st century.
  I am disappointed in my colleagues who used to be in favor of these 
sorts of flexible arrangements and no longer favor it, but I get that. 
I hope that the rest of us will use our common sense and use what we 
all know is really happening in the workplace today and support this 
very important bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I have a document from 1997 from then-President Bill 
Clinton who opposed a bill that is basically identical to this one in 
its current form. The President said he would veto this bill, if 
passed, because he said this bill purports to give working families 
greater flexibility, but, in reality, it grants employers more rights 
at the expense of working people.
  I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle stop using President 
Clinton's good name in vain in passage of a bill that is nearly 
identical to the one that he threatened to veto.
  Of course, Democrats want to talk about flexibility. President 
Clinton, myself, and Democrats of the Education and the Workforce 
Committee are happy to do that, if there is a way to provide workers 
with real choices to protect workers against employee abuse in making 
their decisions, but the current bill, and the same bill that President 
Clinton opposed, fails in that regard and fails to give employees the 
rights that they deserve to exercise their comp time.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from North Carolina 
(Ms. Adams).
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. 
Polis) for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my strong opposition to H.R. 1180.
  H.R. 1180 encourages overwork by encouraging workers to spend more 
time at work in order to earn paid time off, which employers may or may 
not allow them to use in the future.
  Many hardworking families throughout the 12th District of North 
Carolina need overtime pay just to make ends meet each month. They 
should not be compelled by their employer to accept comp time when 
their monthly budget depends on how much overtime they receive in their 
paycheck. Overtime pay can be the difference between paying for sending 
a child to college or going into debt. Parents who earn an hourly wage 
need overtime, not comp time, to care for their families.
  Nothing in the Working Families Flexibility Act strengthens existing 
workplace protections or promotes workplace flexibility. That is why I 
offered an amendment last week when H.R. 1180 was considered in 
committee to exempt comp time arrangements from mandatory arbitration 
  This amendment would have ensured protections for employees that H.R. 
1180 seek to take away. Unfortunately, the majority decided not to 
support my amendment or any other amendments offered by my fellow 
Democrats on the Education and the Workforce Committee.
  Instead of today's bill, the House should consider legislation that 
would create good jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits. I 
strongly oppose H.R. 1180, and I encourage by colleagues to vote ``no'' 
on this bill.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  My colleague from North Carolina and I worked together on many 
things, and I have great respect for her, but I think her argument 
ignores a very important fact about this bill, and that is that you 
can't be coerced into doing this. You have to do it voluntarily.
  If you would rather get your time and a half in pay, that is your 
decision. You are going to get it. The law requires that. There is 
nothing that forces anybody to get that.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the Statement of 
Administration Policy from President William Jefferson Clinton from 
1997, in which President Clinton lays out the criteria, by and large, 
which is still the criteria under which Democrats would support a comp 
time flexibility bill, had the Republicans been at all serious about 
actually passing one into law rather than just passing a symbolic bill 
that they have passed for 22 years.

   [From the American Presidency Project, John T. Woolley & Gerhard 
                       Peters, Santa Barbara, CA]

William J. Clinton: Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 1--Working 
            Families Flexibility Act of 1997, March 19, 1997

                (House) (Ballenger (R) NC and 99 others)

       The President will veto H.R. 1 if it is passed in its 
     current form. The President will not sign H.R. 1, or any 
     other comp time legislation, unless it adheres to three 
     fundamental principles: (1) real choice for workers; (2) real 
     protection against employer abuse; and (3) preservation of 
     workers' rights.
       H.R. 1 purports to give working families greater 
     flexibility. In reality, it grants employers more rights at 
     the expense of working people:
       H.R. 1 fails to offer workers real choice. In particular, 
     H.R. 1 would allow an employer to decide when a worker could 
     use his or her compensatory time-off by disapproving such 
     time-off if the employer claims it would ``unduly disrupt'' 
     its operations. In addition, H.R. 1 would permit an employer 
     to ``cash out'' a worker's earned compensatory time over 80 
       H.R. 1 fails to protect workers against employer abuse. For 
     example, H.R. 1 offers inadequate protections for vulnerable 
     workers and part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees, 
     including garment and construction workers, and those who are 
     employed in industries with histories of Fair Labor Standards 
     Act violations. H.R. 1 also fails to prohibit employers from 
     substituting compensatory time-off for paid vacation or sick 
     leave benefits. Furthermore, H.R. 1 lacks meaningful remedies 
     for workers when employers penalize them for electing to 
     receive overtime pay in lieu of compensatory time-off. In 
     addition, H.R. 1 contains inadequate worker safeguards in 
     cases where an employer goes bankrupt or out-of-business.
       H.R. 1 fails to preserve workers' rights. Workers who take 
     compensatory time-off

[[Page H3017]]

     can be forced to work additional overtime in the same week--
     even on the weekend--without being paid overtime premium pay.
       The Administration supports the substitute amendment to be 
     offered by Representative George Miller, although procedural 
     obstacles in the House have prevented the amendment from 
     addressing all of the important issues that need to be 
     treated, including expansion of Family and Medical Leave Act 
     (FMLA). The Administration strongly believes that any 
     legislation to authorize compensatory time under the Fair 
     Labor Standards Act should be linked to expansion of the 
     FMLA. Expanding the FMLA to give working families greater 
     flexibility to foster the education of their children or 
     provide routine health care for their children or elderly 
     relatives will go a long way toward achieving the stated 
     goals of H.R. 1.
       The Miller amendment, however, would ensure real employee 
     choice, by adding crucial provisions not found in H.R. 1. For 
     example, employers that adopt comp time programs would have 
     to make comp time available to similarly-situated employees 
     on a fair and non-discriminatory basis. Working families are 
     guaranteed real protection against possible comp time abuse 
     through the Miller amendment.
       Furthermore, the Miller amendment would preclude employers 
     from using comp time to modify or reduce existing paid leave 
     plans. It would entitle employees choosing comp time to get 
     regular statements of their accrual and use of comp time; put 
     a reasonable limit on the number of hours of comp time that 
     can be accrued; and allow employees to seek damages when they 
     incur costs because an employer wrongfully denies them use of 
     the comp time they earned. The Secretary of Labor would have 
     the authority to bar employers with a pattern and practice of 
     comp time abuse from continuing to offer comp time. H.R. 1 
     has none of these protections. These are all improvements to 
     H.R. 1 that guarantee the legislation enhances rather than 
     decreases flexibility for America's working families.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Brown).
  Mr. BROWN of Maryland. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from 
Colorado (Mr. Polis) for yielding.
  I rise today in opposition to this so-called Working Families 
Flexibility Act, a bill that would hurt, not help, working people.
  This bill would ensure workers have less time, less flexibility, and 
less money. Under this proposal, workers would forego the overtime they 
earn today in exchange for comp time in the future, except workers 
can't choose when they can use that time.
  There is nothing stopping a boss from denying a worker from using 
their comp time to care for a sick child or attend a school event. The 
only thing that this bill does is provide more flexibility for bosses, 
while taking away hard-earned overtime pay that many workers rely on to 
make ends meet.
  This is an attempt to undermine hard-fought, 80-year-old worker 
protections guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. If Congress 
wanted to give working families more flexibility, we should give them 
earned paid sick days, combat pay discrimination, give them a say in 
their work schedules, and raise the minimum wage. These are the 
policies that working families truly need to thrive.
  They are popular, commonsense ideas that, unlike this bill, don't 
force workers into choosing between time and money. Families depend on 
both. Let's work together to support real flexibility for working 
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Dingell).
  Mrs. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and 
underlying bill, and I thank my colleague from Colorado for yielding.
  Contrary to its name, the Working Families Flexibility Act provides 
no flexibility for working families but makes it harder to plan 
financially at a time when wages have stagnated and American workers 
are working harder than ever.
  The 40-hour workweek is a long established American way of life--a 
way of life won by hardworking American men and women. This legislation 
aims to undermine the Fair Labor Standards Act and the 40-hour workweek 
by handing even more power over to employers by giving them the right 
to not pay for overtime hours.
  This legislation amounts to a handout for large American companies at 
the expense of their workers. Hardworking Americans can't afford to 
loan their bosses overtime pay for months at a time. Employees would 
also find themselves at a disadvantage if they wanted to get paid for 
overtime instead of opting for comp time. Companies would find it in 
their financial interest to select comp time workers instead of workers 
who want overtime pay. This isn't the flexibility that American workers 
  The bill is right about one thing: American workers do deserve an 
update to the FLSA. If they really want to talk about helping American 
working families gain more flexibility in the workplace, Congress 
should be taking up bills on paid sick days, paid family and medical 
leave, and a real increase in wages.
  I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this bill.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I think my friends on the other side of the aisle don't 
understand how this works. An employee comes to their supervisor or the 
person who runs the HR office in the company and says: I would like to 
get some comp time in return for the overtime I am getting ready to 
work because I have got a specific reason to want to use it. The 
employer says: Okay, when do you want to get the overtime and when do 
you want to take the comp time? They work that out.
  The employer has the responsibility for having the system and the 
paperwork for showing that they have complied with the law. From an 
employer's point of view, that is an extra burden. It is really not in 
the interest of an employer to do this. An employer would really prefer 
to say: Look, I don't want to have to do this, because if I make a 
mistake, I am going to get in trouble with either a private lawsuit or 
the Department of Labor. So it is really better for the employer not to 
have this option because it is not going to be an option in which they 
can make a mistake.
  This is for that employee to get the comp time so they can have some 
flexibility in their schedule. That is who it is for. If they don't 
want to use it, they don't have to use it. They can still be paid the 
time and a half that they are paid today. No one can coerce them. The 
law says you can't do that, and there are real penalties for it.
  To the contrary, when we are hearing that somehow this is something 
for the employers, no, it is not. This is for the workers--the new 
workers of the 21st century, who sometimes I think we have forgotten 
about when we have these debates in this body.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, while we are debating a rule for a bill that would strip 
workers of their overtime pay, since President Trump took office, 
dangerous bills like this are more likely to become law.
  Just a few weeks ago, President Trump signed a bill into law that 
strips the American people of our online privacy, allowing internet 
service providers to sell yours and my sensitive information to the 
highest bidder without our permission.
  This information includes location, financial and health data, 
information about our children--even pictures of our children--Social 
Security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history, content of 
communication: emails, video chats. It is simply wrong.
  For this reason, when we defeat the previous question, I will offer 
an amendment to the rule to bring up Representative Jacky Rosen's bill, 
H.R. 1868, which would reinstate the Federal Communication 
Commission's internet privacy rule.

  Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of my 
amendment in the Record, along with extraneous material, immediately 
prior to the vote on the previous question.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Colorado?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, sometimes you need a redo or a retake. When 
this body narrowly passed the bill that President Trump signed that 
took all of our private data and allowed internet service providers to 
sell it without our permission, it was a mistake. Hopefully enough 
Members of this body have since realized it is a mistake and they will 
now change their vote and support defeating the previous question

[[Page H3018]]

allowing for immediate consideration of Representative Rosen's bill to 
protect our privacy.
  As we know, broadband access through internet access providers is a 
critical way to have access to a world of information and commerce, but 
the price of that access should not be all of your private information, 
including your kids' photographs and birthdays and your Social Security 
  Under the bill that became law, everything you enter on the internet 
on any site, regardless of their privacy policy, would be owned by your 
broadband provider and be able to be sold by your broadband provider 
without your consent.
  That is simply wrong for America; it is wrong for consumers; it is 
wrong for innovation. It casts a shadow over the entire internet 
ecosytem, which not only has brought so much enjoyment to so many but 
has created millions of jobs in my district and across our country.

                              {time}  1315

  If we can defeat the previous question, we can do a redo on this 
bill. We can pass H.R. 1868, which would reinstate a rule that has 
broad, popular support. I haven't heard a single constituent of mine 
say that they don't want their broadband privacy protected, and I have 
had hundreds of them say that they do want their broadband privacy 
  I am hoping that, since my Republican friends have now had the chance 
to have townhalls and to listen to their constituents, they will agree 
that we should reinstate the Federal Communications' internet privacy 
rule to protect our privacy subject to the terms of use; information 
can be sold if you consent for it to be sold, but without your consent, 
all the information you enter on the internet should not be the 
property of the broadband provider for their use and for sale. It is 
common sense. The vast majority of the American public agrees. I think 
it is time to call the question on Congress to see if we can get 
Congress to agree.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I would say to my colleague and to the House, I did indeed have 11 
townhalls 2 weeks ago after the bill he references passed. It didn't 
come up one time because the American people understand what that was 
all about, that there were two different Federal agencies battling over 
something, and it didn't even solve the problem. The agency that put 
that regulation out didn't have the authority to do it, and it didn't 
solve the problem. The American people are sick and tired of agencies 
that don't have the authority to go out there and they do something, 
and it doesn't solve the problem.
  If we want to get to the issue that my friend wants to get to, which 
I think is important, we ought to get to, let's work together in a 
bipartisan fashion and come up with a bipartisan, comprehensive bill 
that addresses that. I would really like to be a part of that.
  But that is not what we are here today about. We are here today about 
this bill to provide flexibility to working people in the 21st century, 
particularly millennials.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  I am surprised that people in Alabama weren't clamoring to protect 
their online privacy at the gentleman's townhall meetings. I will 
certainly take him at his word. Perhaps it is because they were so 
concerned with Republican attempts to increase their healthcare 
insurance rates by 15 to 20 percent, Republican attempts to raise their 
taxes, and Republican spending that will increase the deficit by $12 
billion in this continuing resolution that were brought before us. 
Maybe they were so overwhelmed by the Republican efforts to get rid of 
their health care, increase the deficit, spend more money, and take 
away their rights that they didn't get down their list of concerns to 
broadband privacy.
  Certainly in my district, Mr. Speaker, dozens of constituents in my 
townhalls--both Republican and Democratic constituents--brought this 
issue up as a way of arguing how out of touch House and Senate 
Republicans are to say that, at this time in our Nation's history, what 
we need is less privacy, not more. I think that there are a lot of 
things that people are concerned about, and that is certainly one of 
  This debate is about that, frankly, Mr. Speaker, because, if we 
defeat the previous question, I will be bringing forth Ms. Rosen's 
bill. Members of this House will have an opportunity to vote on 
bringing up Ms. Rosen's bill to protect our broadband privacy.
  Mr. Speaker, the more work, less pay bill before us is yet another 
example by Republicans to roll back workers' rights under the guise of 
doing the opposite. Again, if the Republicans have a sincere desire to 
actually enhance and improve workers' rights, then we are all for that. 
The labor movement is for that. Let's talk about that. But don't 
pretend like you have the voices and concerns of workers in mind when 
workers' advocacy groups say you are stripping away their rights. We 
are happy to have that discussion.
  In many ways, the veto statement from President Clinton in 1997 still 
lays out as relevant, today, some of the very criteria the Democrats 
would want to see in a bill that we could support that would empower 
workers to choose additional comp time, a concept that many Democrats 
  I wish we were working to protect American families today. But 
instead of collaborating with Democrats to produce a bill that actually 
accomplishes the stated goal of increasing worker flexibility, instead, 
the Republicans have chosen to move forward with their 22-year-old bill 
that weakens the 40-hour workweek, that President Clinton threatened to 
veto, that hasn't become law and won't become law, just perhaps as a 
check-off box rather than to do anything to actually empower workers to 
choose comp time instead of overtime. They are just checking the box 
for the big bosses and moving on to the next item without seeing this 
through into law.
  There are a lot of bipartisan bills this body could be taking up this 
week. Frankly, one of them is Representative Rosen's bill that I will 
be bringing up when we defeat the previous question, but, sadly, this 
bill is not one of them. I am very disappointed that even in the 
majority, even in the governing capacity, even controlling the House, 
the Senate, and the Presidency, Republicans are wasting time on what we 
around here call messaging bills rather than real bills to address 
issues that Americans want us to work on, like bringing down the cost 
of college, fixing our broken immigration system, rebuilding our 
crumbling roads and bridges, or reforming our complicated tax system to 
make it more friendly for growth in our country.
  Mr. Speaker, I support legislation that puts the needs of workers 
first, but this bill before us does the opposite. This legislation 
lifts up the big bosses with the hope that a worker may or may not see 
a benefit down the line without interest if the company stays 
in business. It is the wrong way to go about it. I oppose the rule. I 
oppose the underlying bill. I urge a ``no'' vote.

  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  I thank Congresswoman Roby for being the sponsor of this bill and 
bringing it forward. As a young woman herself, she understands what's 
going on in the workplace with people her age and how they try to 
juggle all the demands of their time. She has come up with a very 
commonsense approach to how we can deal with this in a way that makes 
sense for everybody.
  We just heard a lot about the labor movement and big bosses. I got 
transported back in my mind. You would have thought we were in the 
1930s and 1940s. I don't know if my colleague from Colorado has been 
paying attention, but union membership is at its lowest level since the 
1940s right now because, even after 8 years of the most pro-union 
administration in decades, union membership continues to fall, and it 
continues to fall because workers in America aren't buying what they 
are selling because a lot of what they are selling is exactly what we 
hear is the opposition to this bill, which is: Let's limit people; 
let's restrict people; let's come up with all these things to tell them 
what they can't do instead of telling them what they can.

[[Page H3019]]

  What the American people want, what I heard in my townhall meetings, 
they want the government off their back so that they can make their own 
choices and live their lives the way they want to live them. This is 
really true with the millennial generation.
  I have four children who are adults right now. They are millennials. 
They really want to have flexibility in their lives, and this bill, 
Congresswoman Roby's bill, gets a little way toward that. I don't see 
why we would be against trying to give not just young workers, but all 
workers, that flexibility.
  I have heard the arguments, and I have heard them several times now. 
I have just got to tell you, they make no sense to me. Perhaps they are 
something that made sense 50, 60, 70 years ago, but they don't make any 
sense in 2017. It is a different time. It is a different day. Let's 
give the workers of America some freedom and flexibility because that 
is what they really want.
  Mr. Speaker, I again urge my colleagues to support House Resolution 
299 and the underlying bill.
  The material previously referred to by Mr. Polis is as follows:

           An Amendment to H. Res. 299 Offered by Mr. Polis 

       At the end of the resolution, add the following new 
       Sec. 6. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution the 
     Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare 
     the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on 
     the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R. 
     1868) to provide that providers of broadband Internet access 
     service shall be subject to the privacy rules adopted by the 
     Federal Communications Commission on October 27, 2016. The 
     first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. All points 
     of order against consideration of the bill are waived. 
     General debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not 
     exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair 
     and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and 
     Commerce. After general debate the bill shall be considered 
     for amendment under the five-minute rule. All points of order 
     against provisions in the bill are waived. At the conclusion 
     of consideration of the bill for amendment the Committee 
     shall rise and report the bill to the House with such 
     .amendments as may have been adopted. The previous question 
     shall be considered as ordered on the bill and amendments 
     thereto to final passage without intervening motion except 
     one motion to recommit with or without instructions. If the 
     Committee of the Whole rises and reports that it has come to 
     no resolution on the bill, then on the next legislative day 
     the House shall, immediately after the third daily order of 
     business under clause 1 of rule XIV, resolve into the 
     Committee of the Whole for further consideration of the bill.
       Sec. 7. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the 
     consideration of H.R. 1868.

        The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

       This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous 
     question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. 
     A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote 
     against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow 
     the Democratic minority to offer an alternative plan. It is a 
     vote about what the House should be debating.
       Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of 
     Representatives (VI, 308-311), describes the vote on the 
     previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or 
     control the consideration of the subject before the House 
     being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous 
     question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the 
     subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling 
     of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the 
     House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes 
     the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to 
     offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the 
     majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated 
     the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to 
     a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to 
     recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: 
     ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman 
     from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to 
     yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first 
       The Republican majority may say ``the vote on the previous 
     question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an 
     immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no 
     substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' 
     But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the 
     Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in 
     the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition, 
     page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous 
     question vote in their own manual: ``Although it is generally 
     not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member 
     controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of 
     offering an a amendment, the same result may be achieved by 
     voting down the previous question on the rule . . . When the 
     motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the 
     time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering 
     the previous question. That Member, because he then controls 
     the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for 
     the purpose of amendment.''
       In Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of 
     Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special 
     Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on 
     such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on 
     Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further 
     debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: 
     ``Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a 
     resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control 
     shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous 
     question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who 
     controls the time for debate thereon.''
       Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does 
     have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only 
     available tools for those who oppose the Republican 
     majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the 
     opportunity to offer an alternative plan.
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I 
move the previous question on the resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on ordering the previous 
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.