Congress—Fall Preview (Beltway Buzz - August 25, 2017)


The Beltway Buzz is a weekly update summarizing labor and employment news from inside the Beltway and clarifying how what's happening in Washington, D.C. could impact your business.

Congress—Fall Preview. Hopefully, our representatives have been getting plenty of rest in August, because when they return to D.C. on September 5, they will begin a work period that is expected to be extremely busy. First, as we've noted multiple times in the Buzz, government funding runs out on September 30, and Congress will need to address this in order to avoid a government shutdown (read up on potential consequences of a shutdown here). We expect that Congress will pass some sort of extension (continuing resolution) in the short term to buy themselves some time. President Trump's recent comments about shutting down the government if there is no funding for the wall will also be a factor in these policy debates. Furthermore, the debt limit needs to be increased by September 29, and the Federal Aviation Administration, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the National Flood Insurance Program are all scheduled to expire on September 30. Members of Congress will be jockeying to have their say in all of these legislative debates. The Senate will also likely spend time considering nominees for vacant agency positions. All of this leaves little room (in the near term, at least) for discussions about tax reform, infrastructure, and trade—which will no doubt frustrate the business community.

Employer Wellness Programs. On Tuesday, August 22, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider its 2016 changes to its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) regulations relating to employer wellness programs. The lawsuit, which was brought by AARP, concerns whether the 30 percent reduction in insurance premiums (that the regulations permit employers to offer employees to encourage them to participate in workplace wellness programs) could create such a financial incentive for employees that it might amount to an involuntary medical examination in violation of the ADA and an involuntary collection of genetic information in violation of GINA. The judge determined that the 30 percent figure established by the EEOC was "neither reasonable nor supported by the administrative record." However, because 2017 health plans were designed in reliance on these rules and...

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