2023’s Current Legislative and Regulatory Outlook
July 11, 2023
Last year’s midterm election ushered in a new balance of power in Washington, D.C., that is changing how the Biden administration and Congress are approaching legislative and regulatory policy in 2023. Prior to the midterm election, the Democratic Party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, which provided a path for President Biden to implement key policy priorities with little resistance from Republicans. Now, with Republicans in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democratic agenda is facing roadblocks on Capitol Hill, and any major legislation passed by Congress will need the support of both political parties. Due to a politically divided Congress, we can expect to see a slowdown of new legislation reaching President Biden’s desk over the next two years. At the start of 2023, Democrats in the Senate prioritized the confirmation of federal judges and administration officials who do not need to be approved by the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, in the House, Republicans have been pushing their priority bills on energy, education, immigration and crime, which will continue to struggle to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.
With the U.S. debt ceiling legislation having been passed by Congress in early June, in which legislators approved to suspend the nation’s federal debt limit through Jan. 1, 2025, both parties will need to now shift focus to the annual appropriations process as the vehicle to get their key priorities signed into law by President Biden.
Every fall, Congress must pass an appropriations bill by Sept. 30 to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. In previous years, NDA has successfully worked with Congress to pass key funding priorities for the demolition industry in appropriations bills and will continue to do so in 2023.
Further, NDA will be placing a high priority on workforce development policies to help alleviate labor shortages in the demolition and construction industries. According to NDA’s tracking, there was a 20% increase in the number of workforce development bills introduced last Congress compared to previous years. This is an encouraging sign that both parties understand the urgency of fixing the labor crisis. There have already been several bipartisan bills introduced this year that seek to improve and reform the nation’s workforce development system. These include proposals such as workforce training tax credits, increased investments in technical training and apprenticeship opportunities for young workers, and other federal incentives. NDA has already heavily lobbied Congress on this issue at the beginning of this year and will continue to do so in the coming months.
With Congress sharply gridlocked on legislation, President Biden is turning to the federal regulatory agencies to implement the rest of his administration’s agenda. The Biden administration is planning to propose and finalize several new regulations that could affect the demolition industry in 2023. NDA recently learned that the Department of Labor (DOL) is targeting the month of August to propose new changes to the regulations governing the exemptions to federally mandated overtime pay. While details remain scarce, the proposed rule will likely include a salary threshold increase and possibly changes to the duties test. Any potential amendments to the overtime rule will have a significant impact on the employer community. To help bolster the industry’s advocacy efforts, NDA recently joined the influential Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity (PPWO) coalition, which will be lobbying the Biden administration to support practical and workable overtime regulations.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also proposed a rule earlier this year to ban all existing and future noncompete agreements between employers and workers. NDA opposes the proposed rule and has submitted comments to the FTC expressing the industry’s concerns. In addition, NDA submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supporting its decision to deny a petition to list discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
In addition to the regulations listed in this article, the Biden administration has announced its intention to issue new regulations on the following issues in the coming year:
- Updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts regulations
- Improving the tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses
- Classification of independent contractors
- Occupational exposure to lead
- Respirable crystalline silica
- Infectious diseases in the workplace
- Heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings
- Crane and derricks in construction
While the timeline on these new regulations remains fluid, NDA will be closely monitoring the Biden administration’s regulatory actions and will be weighing in with comments on behalf of the demolition industry.