House Republicans held a hearing Wednesday throwing cold water on President Joe Biden’s plan to give more workers overtime protections.
Even though the hearing was about employees who work long hours, the GOP chair of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce took a moment to argue that too many Americans don’t want to work at all.
“There’s just a lot of people in this country that don’t want to work, period … and want other people to take care of them,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
Foxx added: “That’s not what this country is all about. We have great opportunities in this country for people to be successful, if they want to work hard.”
The lawmaker’s statement came in response to testimony from Democratic witness Judy Conti, the director of government affairs for the National Employment Law Project, who’d said that many workers won’t put up with forced overtime these days.
“We see that workers are increasingly willing to — especially younger workers — are willing to leave jobs where they have to do mandatory overtime, especially where it’s uncompensated,” Conti had said.
Biden’s Labor Department has proposed a new rule that would guarantee more workers time-and-a-half pay when they work extra hours. The White House estimates that an additional 3.6 million workers, most of them salaried, would be eligible for overtime pay under the plan.
Many of those workers — for example, retail store managers — now routinely log more than 40 hours a week but receive nothing beyond their base pay. The system encourages employers to heap more work on those managers since they don’t have to be paid for the additional time, unlike hourly employees who are guaranteed overtime pay.
U.S. overtime protections date back to the Great Depression, but over the years fewer and fewer workers have been eligible for them. That’s largely because of the low “salary threshold” — the salary below which workers have a legal right to overtime pay regardless of their job duties.
The current rate is just $35,568 per year, but the administration wants to hike it to $55,068. Raising it would bring millions more workers under the law’s protections.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the plan as a job killer, and their witnesses in Wednesday’s hearing claimed that the regulation would force employers to cut hours and positions.
The Labor Department estimates that the overtime proposal would put $1.3 billion of additional wages in workers’ paychecks.
When the Labor Department announced the proposal, Foxx said it would “stifle workplace flexibility” and “lump burdensome costs on job creators.”
Foxx recently made headlines when she told a reporter to “shut up” after the journalist asked House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) about his role in the effort to overturn the results of 2020′s presidential election.