Posted with permission from Confined Space, a newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues.
Today the full Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the FY 2018 Labor-HHS Funding Bill. The bill maintains OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH funding at the FY 2017 levels. That means that there are no cuts from the agencies’ current (FY 2017) budgets. And the most surprising news is that the bill also includes $10.5 million for the Susan Harwood Training Grants. No details yet on specific line items, e.g. how much for enforcement, compliance assistance, etc.
Meanwhile, as we reported earlier, the House of Representatives bill is getting much worse. The full House is taking up the House Labor-HHS bill today as part of a big spending package. That bill cuts the OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH budgets. In addition, as we discussed earlier today, “poison pill” riders will be voted on that would prohibit implementation of OSHA’s silica standard and injury tracking recordkeeping rule.
Although we’ll end up with strikingly different bills in the Senate and the House, the expectation is that, because the Senate bill is a bi-partisan measure that both parties have agreed on, the current funding is likely to be maintained if there is a final bill. That’s a big “if.” Gamblers and other experts are betting that we may just end up with a continuing resolution for FY 18, which would also fund FY 18 at approximately the same level as FY 2017.
As we’ve said before, a flat budget ends up being an actual budget cut because of rising fixed expenses. Nevertheless, considering who controls the White House and Congress, that would be as good as we could hope.
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