Yesterday, the House passed the largely non-controversial Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations (MilCon) bill for FY 2012. Unfortunately, it is these non-controversial bills which provide a safe haven for meretricious policy initiatives through the rapid fire amendment process. While everyone was focused on presidential politics, the House passed an amendment forcing government contractors to use labor unions on federal construction projects. Oh, and like most bad legislation, this amendment passed by one vote, with the help of 27 Republicans.
In 2009, Obama used his signature power grab tool; an Executive Order, forcing all private companies to sign a project labor agreement (PLA) in order to bid on federal construction projects. PLA's compel the private contractor to use only unionized workers for the perspective project. This executive power grab is nothing more than an election payback to big labor, which would ostensibly purloin the taxpayer with forced collective bargaining for all public construction projects.
This malevolent executive order would also discriminate against non-union workers. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of private sector construction workers are unionized. As Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) said on the House floor, "So the Obama administration through this executive order is attempting to unionize any private company in America that wants to do business with the federal government." Then again, Democrats have been paying out their union cronies with the blood and sweat of American taxpayers for years.
Last month, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee inserted language in the MilCon bill to nullify any executive mandate for project labor agreements. Ironically, it was a Republican, union shill Rep. Steve LaTourette, who proposed an amendment to strike out the anti PLA section from the bill. He rounded up 26 other Republicans and helped Democrats preserve Obama's pro-union discrimination by 204-203!
In addition to fleecing the taxpayers with a union giveaway, 54 Republicans voted down an amendment (Justin Amash- AMDT 413) to prohibit the use of funds to enforce Davis-Beacon prevailing wages. This Great Depression era pro-labor law inflates the cost of public contracts by forcing the government to pay highly subjective "prevailing" wages to those who contract with the federal government. Rep. Amash and others have been seeking to use approps bills to strike out these wage controls from government contracts. Each time, there were enough rouge Republicans to defeat his amendments. The amendment to the MilCon bill failed 178-232, with the help of way too many Republicans.
Yesterday's "non-controversial" House votes are quintessential examples of the need to shed light on the banal, yet consequential, proceedings of Congress. We simply cannot sit idle and assume that a Republican-controlled House will scuttle pernicious legislation without some "outside help" from the Tea Party. Sadly, this holds true even for those bills which offer handouts to the largest bankrollers of the Democrat Party.