House Republicans Rebrand Themselves Back to 1996

The latest salvo from House Republicans in the hit on women’s paychecks is nothing new… From the bill name to their rhetoric, the American people have seen this before.


Working Families Flexibility Act of 1996 [H.R. 2391] – Rejected by Congress

Working Families Flexibility Act of 1997 [H.R. 1] – Rejected by Congress

Family Time Flexibility Act of 2003 [H.R. 1113] – Rejected by Congress


Working Families Flexibility Act

From Salon

The talking points haven’t changed much. “To many working men and women, time with their family is just as valuable as extra money,” current House Speaker Boehner said in March of 1997. “In fact, many would prefer to have time rather than money,” then-Rep. Judy Biggert said in 2003. “Time is more precious to [a working father] than the cash payments,” Rep. Martha Roby told the National Review last month. [5/6]

But that’s not the only thing that remains the same. It’s STILL a bad idea.



When Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) was being courted by the House leadership to support the flextime measure, he asked the assembled bigwigs if any of them had spoken to labor – the representatives of millions of those workers the bill is supposed to help. “It was as if I had said, Have you met with somebody from Mars?’” said King, who along with Rep. Michael Forbes (R-Quogue) bucked their party to vote against the measure. [Newsday, 3/25/97]

“This bill proposes to alter labor protections that have existed for almost 60 years,” said 9to5′s [Ellen] Bravo. “Families are desperate for more flexibility, but they do not want anyone to tinker with their overtime pay.” [Palm Beach Post, 3/23/97]


“What this bill does is give employers flexibility to schedule more overtime without paying for it,” said Bill Samuel, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s legislative director. “Right now, the Fair Labor Standards Act is meant to discourage excessive overtime because it costs money. The real point is this is going to mean more overtime for more workers for less pay. And more overtime will mean less family time for many workers.” [NYT, 5/10/03]

“We don’t think it’s the best thing for employees,” said Jack Wells, president and business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 50, which represents more than 1,200 utilities workers across Hampton Roads. “It’s probably pretty good for companies.” [Virginian-Pilot, 5/11/03]

Perhaps the late Molly Ivins put it best in 2003:

“To hear the Republicans tell it, you’d think these were family-friendly bills, something like Clinton’s Family Leave Act, designed to help you balance the difficult combined demands of work and family. With such a smarm of butter over their visages do the Republicans go on about the joys of “flexibility” and “freedom of choice” that you would have to read the bills for maybe 30 seconds before figuring out they’re about repealing the 40-hour workweek and ending overtime.” [4/24/03]

It didn’t work then – and it’s not going to work now. The GOP just doesn’t change.

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