- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Union watchdog agency has budget cut
Question of the Day
The Bush administration says the Democrat-controlled Congress is trying to shortchange the lone federal agency responsible for ensuring unions spend their dues legally — an effort Republicans consider political payback that must be rebuffed.
At least two Republican senators are expected to propose legislation to restore nearly 4 percent of funding the House cut from the Office of Labor-Management Standards, Capitol Hill aides said.
“Union members are entitled to know where their money is going,” Labor Department Secretary Elaine L. Chao said. “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the department’s budget goes to OLMS — the one federal entity charged with protecting union members from corruption — and it is the one singled out for budget cuts.”
The House last week approved $45.7 million for OLMS for fiscal year 2008 — $2 million less than in 2007, and about $11 million short of the Bush administration’s budget request. It was the only major Labor agency to get less money than in 2007.
“When it came to the office whose responsibility is to find the crooks who are stealing from union members, [Democrats] found a way to impose a 4 percent cut in that office,” said Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, whose bid to restore OLMS funding to its 2007 level failed. “And what a shame that is.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, has questioned the need to give the agency more money when he said unions are complying with disclosure reporting requirements at a rate of 96 percent.
“I’d say if you are getting 96 percent, that’s an A — at least it was when I went to school,” Mr. Obey said.
The Labor Department says Mr. Obey is only referring to the percentage of unions who filled out their financial forms correctly — not the percentage of unions that were in compliance. The rate of unions who submitted disclosure reports on time last year was about 64 percent.
Labor activists say the department’s claim that the cut will significantly hurt the agency is political propaganda.
The agency’s budget increased 50 percent between 2001 and 2006, with staffing levels increasing 46 percent, said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington think tank.
“This agency has gone into some minute details over the affairs of unions that no corporation would stand for,” Mr. Eisenbrey said. “This is an agency that arguably is out of control.”
Republicans view the OLMS budget cut as the latest in a series of political paybacks by Democrats to organized labor, a longtime supporter of the party.
In the 2006 elections, organized labor gave $57.5 million to Democratic candidates and party committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq