Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee held a hearing on S. 30, the Forty Hours is Full Time Act. The legislation was introduced earlier this month by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) as a companion to H.R. 30, which passed the House on January 8 by a vote of 252-172.
During the hearing, all of the Democrats on the committee expressed skepticism of the bill, citing the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score. The CBO score estimated that the bill would cost the government $52 billion, increase the uninsured by half a million people, and cause a million employers to drop coverage. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) charged that changing the requirement to 40 hours would be corporate welfare, by allowing companies to cut back on benefits while the federal government would pick up the tab through exchange subsidies or Medicaid funding. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) added that, “We should be rewarding hard work, not punishing it." Republicans countered by pointing to a study that found that 2.6 million employees could have their hours cut or lose their jobs under the 30-hour rule. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) likened the rule to France’s 35-hour workweek, and said that, “thousands of workers are getting a pay cut. Their work schedules are being reduced to 29 hours a week and below.”
The Democratic resistance will make the math to get to 60 votes (and eventually 67 votes to respond to the Administration’s veto threat), all the more difficult. The unofficial whip count still stands at 56 ayes, assuming that all 54 Republicans fall in line to support the bill. The 54 Republicans would be joined by Senators Donnelly and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the two Democratic cosponsors. The bill will next head to a markup hearing in the Senate Finance Committee, although no timetable has been set yet.
NAHU strongly supports S. 30 and we still need your help to tell the Senate why it’s so important. Take action today and send an Operation Shout to your senators!