Congressional Update

There were a lot of developments in Washington last week, but none as critical as the selection of the new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA). Mr. Johnson, who is not a current member of leadership, was the last man standing after weeks of intra-party squabbling following the removal of Kevin McCarthy. Immediately following his election to be Speaker, the House quickly started working through the FY 2024 appropriations legislation that had been stagnating since July. This is critical as the government is poised for another possible shutdown on November 17. One of the first items under consideration in the reopened House was the FY 2024 Energy and Water appropriations bill, which included a provision that would allow the government to sell 1 million gallons of gasoline that had been set aside after Hurricane Sandy.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a Final Rule establishing a standard for joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. This rule replaces one that had been established under the Trump Administration and, for the most part, reestablishes the standard of joint employment that existed during the Obama Administration. As you know, a joint employer relationship exists when one employer is so intertwined with another that employees of the second company are treated as if they are employees of the first company.

Joint employer status has been one of the thornier issues for the NLRB in recent years, with its position widening and narrowing in scope on several occasions, but this new version is the broadest version yet, and may have far-reaching consequences for businesses large and small when it takes effect on December 26.

Copies of the rule and a fact sheet can be found at the corresponding links, and our team will continue to monitor NLRB and any interested parties for developments over the coming weeks.

Aside from the Speaker’s race, on the other side of the Capitol, the Senate was at work on several items of interest. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act, which would bar the EPA from imposing any regulations to limit the sales of gas-powered cars. This proposal is designed to counter the Biden Administration’s EV mandate. A companion bill was introduced in the House in July and EMA fully supports this bill.

Separately, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced the Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation and Opportunity Act, which would “enhance the ability of the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Products Assistance program to support the development of biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased products” and it would “update the underlying loan guarantee program and restore a grant program to support public-private partnership investment in pilot and demonstration-scale facility development.” Specifically, the legislation would provide $100 million over five years which would be available to support up to 50 percent of the costs of pilot scale facility construction.