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September 16, 2005

Did Davis-Bacon Suspension Violate the Law?

It appears based on this Congressional Research Report that Bush violated the 1976 National Emergencies Act in failing to follow proper procedures in suspending Davis-Bacon wage regulations.  Dems at the Education and Workforce Committee are denouncing Bush for this illegal behavior.

Now, whether Bush said the right "magic words" may not matter to any court that could potentially rule on the issue.

But here's the important clause in the National Emergencies Act (NEA) (50 USC 1622(b)) that could land "moderate" Republicans between a rock (Delay & Bush) and their constituents:

(b) Termination review of national emergencies by Congress

Not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, and not later than the end of each six-month period thereafter that such emergency continues, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated.

Why is this key?

Because in six months, a bunch of Republicans in swing districts who claim to be pro-labor may have to vote on whether to continue the suspension of Davis-Bacon.

If they vote with Delay, this could be the vote to knock a number out of them out of office.  And if they vote with labor, it would be a massive national defeat for Bush and Delay.

The GOP has been able to control the agenda and prohibit most votes that might embarass those "pro-labor" Republicans (or give them a chance to rebel).  But the NEA may require a mandatory vote.

Avoiding this possibility may be why Bush didn't want to formally invoke the NEA.

Whether there's a loophole for Bush and Delay to avoid that vote in six months in unclear at this point, but it's an enticing idea to have an up-or-down labor vote in the Spring right before mid-term elections. In any case, it gives all of us a good reason to begin quizzing these swing Republicans on where they stand on whether US reconstruction money should be going to sweatshop contractors.

Posted by Nathan at September 16, 2005 07:39 PM