Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) will fight today for his proposed amendment suspending the Davis-Bacon Act - which requires government contractors to pay workers local prevailing wages - during relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.
On Friday, Arizona's Politics relayed that The Hill was reporting that Gosar had filed the amendment, and updated the story with a response from Gosar's spokesperson that the Congressman was "looking into" the amendment.
Turns out that the Gosar amendment was filed on Friday, and that it will be considered this afternoon at a House Rules Committee hearing (3:00pm, Arizona Time). The amendment is one sentence that would ensure that none of the disaster relief monies authorized by the bill would be permitted to "administer or enforce" the Davis-Bacon Act:
"None of the funds made available by thisNot yet apparent is how that sentence is more than symbolic. The Department of Labor is the agency which enforces the Act - originally pushed and passed by the two Republicans for whom the Act is named - and would not be impacted by this funding bill.
Act may be used to administer or enforce the wage-rate
requirements of subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40,
United States Code (commonly known as the ‘‘Davis-
Bacon Act’’), with respect to any project or program funded by this Act."
The last time that the Davis-Bacon Act was suspended was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In that instance, Arizona Rep. (now Sen.) Jeff Flake was one member of Congress who took the lead. However, it took the form of writing to President George W. Bush and urging him to "make a Presidential proclamation to suspend Davis-Bacon." That is what Bush did.
Gosar's amendment is identical to the one put forward by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) last month when the Senate initially passed a Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Paul spoke for his amendment, saying that it would allow Congress to be "frugal" by permitting "competitive bidding on wages." Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke against it, "The foundation for communities is good jobs with fair wages."
Paul's amendment was rejected on Dec. 28 by a 42-52 vote, with five Republicans joining the Democrats in knocking it down. (Arizona Senators Kyl and McCain voted for it.)
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