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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 20, 2016 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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investigative reports. our evaluators make recommendations as a part of their job. that is a different part of the ig. we would report the facts and just the facts. we would not make a remake -- a recommendation. >> you report the facts to the epa, plus the auditing? >> it depends. vulnerability.stematic problem
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reported se information and accountability system that will mitigate these kinds of cases in the future. not talking about the one about individual ot the sex offendervicted
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should be hired and under what conditions. i can tell you that in the past year as was allude seeded to, by meeting by-weekly, we've stream lined the process and broken down some barriers and touched each other we have othing to do with the ultimate process.nary ortunately for most of our it's a ne supervisors, very rare thing so when one comes up, we want to make sure context in whatever take. they >> okay. mr. sullivan, do you have that in two seconds?
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we've gone from 360 authorized to 289 and i've personally lost 15 to 20 agents so i'm always trying to play catch up. >> i hope you have fewer cases you have to investigate. gentlemen. >> it's good to hold this areaing and review some of the employees some of the of epa. responsibility for that agency to carry out. chair he opportunity to service on this sub -- subcommittee on this panel some years ago. i'm a supporter of this civil service system.
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it was set up decades and ecades ago to protect civil servants, public employees from abuse abuse. >> it's important to make sure the system is not -- > not rigged to take hardworking people and then cast political some basis. i think that should be protected. of some of the
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eh judgeous abuses. i can't find any instance in which anyone was fired. did you say there were 15,000 employees? is that correct?
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>> yes, that's correct. >> and you have 28 ah 0 investigators? >> no, sir. 360 five years ago and now we're down to 289. >> and what do they do? >> we have investigates, auditors, evaluators. >> and then the -- i'm sorry, looking at reviewing the conduct of the 15 15 thousand epa employees? >> i have 50 agents right now that can conduct investigations. >> okay. how many of -- last year, 2015, how many people were fired from epa? do you think it's more than just my fingers and my toes? >> i'm going -- i want to be clear about my answer. >> i tell you that almost nobody -- well, nobody here got fired. the was that the -- >> that was the child molester the. >> so we're paying child molesters $15,000. gets fired. there's one epa official in gs-15.gton, 15, it's a minimum of
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125,000. for this guy sat around years years. issued a notice but oposed removal
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returned. it's political manipulation. epa has to be thousands of officials to see these people involved in mi misconduct they were stealing money and i can't find a single fired.e where anyone was they mostly retired and when get a pretty ey
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good retirement.
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92 fraud 7 fraud cases, theft nvestigations, assault investigations. it runs a spectrum. misconduct we have 90 cases, 14 of which have been and nted to the agency adjudication. >> when we have a process where is hired and then serious offense, do to report and y where do we draw the line there? epa employees, there's no requirement to report either an arrest or a conviction. bviously if you're a law
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enforcement offerser like myself, you must report. if you're an attorney, you must report. if you work for the ig, you must report. a security ve clearance, you report an arrest conviction. agencies re other where they have to -- the list three?ger than that
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>> yes, mr. cummings. been a law enforcement officer my entire life. i've worked for, you absolutely have to immediately report an arrest and a conviction. i was surprised to learn that he epa employees did not have to do that. i've accepted that as that's the ules, but i was a little curious as to why just for the sake of knowing if you put trust and confidence in a particular employee, it may affect your judgment or decision making if person was just convicted of, say, theft or in their private
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life. triggers counseling? how do i determine whether should have counseling and would that be a part of keeping them on? you don't have a lot to do with the final say. >> thank you, ranking member. it depends. the short answer is it depends on the case and what the nature is.he offense if it was an offense created out the employee r just didn't know what the rule was, it may be appropriate but evaluated on its own merit. is running out but where wean asked about go from here. ell me clearly, what would you like to see done so that we can be effective and efficient and
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youhat we can basically put out of a job? concerned that don't have enough people to investigate, we but the y get to them ld saying justice delayed is justice denied. i'm concerned that i don't have people to investigate. in the field average approximately seven cases each. the field e cases in are multimillion dollars fraud are really ns that involved. i simply do not have enough
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to investigate everything that's on my plate. >> i got the money piece. you.ree with but, you know, you've been -- wonderful ve been with regard to sitting down and things.on will you continue to do that? >> absolutely. to my office and because weas a whole an move things forward much faster. of everal of the cases employee misconduct that has took eported from the ig .lace in region four one of the cases that is on my place on your watch referring to a gs-12 employee over $100,000 a year was
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thousands stealing of dollars of property from the epa. in fact, the individual pled to felony theft and was year's probation but astonishingly only received suspension from the e.p.a. my obvious question is how in world can an employee be found guilty and admit to criminal charges of stealing e.p.a. and not be fired? >> congressman, i'll speak to that case. as you note, i was the deciding official. this was -- and i want to be lear that there's not a question about whether what the employee did was wrong. what the employee did was wrong to be held ed accountable for doing something wrong.
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a it's astonishing to me that 30-day suspension is all someone gets for even pleading guilty to felony theft. we've got the taxpayers on the behavior his type of and -- so you were the administrator. in determininged the disciplinary action? >> yes, i was the deciding official in the case. case, n deciding on that you're saying that you were not
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charges the criminal when you made the final decision? >> i was generally aware that here was a possibility of proceeding, but i didn't know what the outcome of that was. >> but you were aware of housands of dollars that had been stolen? >> i was aware that $3,000 in camera equipment had been pawned and in that he agency transaction. >> and you're saying that was 30-day suspension? thehere are many facts that deciding officials use. ut there are many factors in deciding what the punishment in charge of m reaching a decision on the penalty. me that ust amazing to the agency doesn't do more to agency,tealing from the who even plead guilty to criminal theft, and they still
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privileges on and the shoulder of taxpayers to for the agency. i can't wrap my head around this. heard time ee has e.p.a. in of the literally plagued with constant employee misconduct. and, yet, at the same time, the .p.a. routinely goes after businesses across this country for much less serious offenses throws fine after fine after that often nesses virtually nothing in comparison. we hear stories of businesses time for slight infractions, getting serious fines. and, yet, here we have the e.p.a. in a double standard having employees involved in and they just or get 30-day suspensions or less.
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hip -- e hypocrite hypocrites. the tate of the affairs at epa is totally unacceptable for me, mr. chairman. i believe the e.p.a. wants the trust of the american people and a longmmittee, they have way to go to get their house in order. i yield back. >> the gentleman from georgia is minutes. for five >> thank you, mr. chairman. 2014, livan, in march of an e.p.a. employee was arrested, jailed, and indicted for marijuana possession. it's my understanding that this particular employee had a grow
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peration and was arrested on felony possession charges. n fact, i believe you highlighted this in your november, 2015 report on the e.p.a.'s use of taxpayer dollars for extended administrative for employees who had been suspended for misconduct. report, this that employee was placed, are you listening? to that report, this employee was placed on administrative leave for seven a half months. correct? >> yes, sir, it's correct. correct. e that's not >> it's correct, sir. >> again, he was charged with possession. he had a grow operation. he was put on administrative seven and a d for half months., >> as i understand it, the
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allows for y only ten days of administrative leave when employees commit a crime be put in hey could prison? is that correct? policy.a new a new policy implemented after this? yes. >> okay. so it wouldn't have applied then? >> no. not apply limit did then. >> so that's why we paid him for months. a half >> i can't explain why. i'm not involved in this process. i couldn'tyou could, understand why. why would that -- the e.p.a. do this? explain to me that. why would you do this? i can't speak to the particulars of this case. >> who can? we need them here. >> that would have had to be the
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regional office where this event occurred. so who makes these decisions? you know what we need here? we need somebody who can -- we can fire. need here.we decision?that >> decisions on conduct and discipline are taken by propose proposing officials who are employee's supervisor and then a final a deputy s made by is a career who appointee. >> i think you said the magic words, career appointee. that was probably the answer to the question. listeningsitting here and it seems that -- with all sir, it seems matter of fact, yes,
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that's right. supposed to y it's be. >> we have. >> are they ready? implemented. ng >> when there they be implemented? being implemented now. >> so they're in place now? on administrative leave to limit administrative leave in any case to ten days there's approval by the assistant administrator for the administration and resources management under very, very -- that.ay. i'm okay with because this is the only time something like this happened. only once. corrected it. is that right, mr. sullivan? >> no. abuse of massive administrative leave prior to changing the rules. audit report pointed that out. >> have you worked in the sector? >> not in many ways.
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to happen in may out. 14 but it didn't work a well, i suspect there's reason there. >> i was in the private sector, but i was. you know, i mean, this is -- my point, ue just made the you go and you fine people. today. that answer we got to pay people administrative leave who have been charged with felonies. that's why you're getting that fine for getting that ladder being in the right place. i needed answers today. thank you both. that's exactly what i needed to know. mr. chairman, i yield. i recognize ms. lawrence from have five minutes. >> thank you. e've heard discussion today about the new process of information sharing in e.p.a.
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improvement to management's response to misconduct. agency andpplaud the he ig for your work to stream line the disciplinary process. workforce on the often focuses on the negatives. so it's good to hear about the occurring.anges any of the failures that we've been hearing about or prior to do applaud so i you. another focus on policy change that took place in e.p.a. regarding administrative leave. to note that this is the sixth hearing that this committee has held over the past two congresses on the management of employee misconduct issues at
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e.p.a. i'm pleased to hear that the new policy increases oversight over employees on of administrative leave during misconduct investigation and adjudications. the new epa policy also requires anagers to document alternatives to administrative and s that were considered why they were deemed not feasible. correct?t >> yes, that's correct, congresswoman. >> so would you tell me what managers es should consider? > managers should consider alternatives about what other kind of work the individual could be doing instead of their it turns out if the investigation will impede their ability to conduct their regular duties. the first place you look.
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to find work they can do while is expect this new policy to reduce the amount of time employees are placed on administrative leave? that the goal? >> yes, indeed, it is. to theeen very sensitive concern of this committee about the abuse of administrative and we want to curtail that practice. has been in place since february? >> that is correct. >> has there been a reduction? >> we've seen a pretty dramatic difference. requests that two have come forward. and the fact that requests are forward by itself is a good sign that the policy is going into place. f the two that came forward, one was approved and the other denied. >> i often like to interject that i se conversations served in a federal agency and
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hr labor relations and responsibility of with g into how you deal inappropriate behavior but respecting the rights of an employee. mix.a delicate you have to hold employees accountable. i want ing here today, employees held accountable. it is the expectation of our public. employee is a citizen of these united states. hey have rights, and the agencies should have -- and i'm you've hear that reviewed these processes to they're consistent. to do people are there the work that my tax dollars and every other american expects to happen in this agency. continue. i hope we don't have to have six
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i e hearings on this, but will continue to stay focused in looking at what we're doing and meiburg, i expect for you to continue to monitor this and be make sure that e.p.a. is doing the work that we need them to do to protect our environment. thank you so much. >> thank you. recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer. mr. meiburg, there are other orms of employee misconduct that i want to address specifically about an investigation that's going on in birmingham, alabama e.p.a. in ing the
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e.p.a. employees have acted improperly in conducting the investigation. specifically seeking access to property without getting the of the owner and whoally intimidating people are occupying houses on the property. an affidavit here in hich one of these people who reside on the property made some -- made these allegations of the u.s. s environmental protection agency approached me to seek permission property.e the e.p.a. officials presented allowed document that them to sample the yard. acting very was intimidating and said i need to the release over even own the property.
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intimidated and felt i had to sign the release did not want to. the officials responded that tarrant, alabama suburb of alabama to shut down the abc coke plant. does the e.p.a. discipline employees who act in such an manner?ous >> any time we have an we gation of misconduct, investigate it and if misconduct we will hold the employee accountable. >> so do you punish that or do it?encourage >> again, congressman, when an occurs,on of misconduct we investigate it. and as agent sullivan -- sullivan specified, one of the things that that occurs investigations is the
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investigation doesn't find any wrong doing. hen it does, we take appropriate action to hold the employee accountable. >> i would like to point out this is not the only affidavit out there like this. there are several others. we're not going to enter them into the record or use their but do you s time, believe it is appropriate for e.p.a. personnel to pressure citizens into endorsing the agenda of the e.p.a. i'm not familiar with the to. fics you're referring >> the situation is the e.p.a. forced a rental to give access property they did not have in an ccess to intimidati then dating manner, and after the investigation informed the owner they were trying to shut down a legal business. allow them to do that?
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to operate outside the law? to intimidate? are you aware that this goes on? not ngressman, again, i'm familiar with the specifics of the cases -- >> i'm asking you in general. general, we ask employees to behave in accordance with solid standards of professional conduct. >> well, they don't always. do you believe it's appropriate the e.p.a. to seek to a legitimate business that employs many people? the lawob is to enforce and make sure people are prected and the laws are followed. that is what we do. >> let me tell you. i've got a number of issues with e.p.a., how they do business, how they handle their investigations. enator richard shelby, senator a f sessions and i sent heather tierney asking
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e.p.a.'s investigation of this area and got a letter to youring with respect e.p.a.'s about pproachment, unfortunately we cannot engage in my level of iscussion with third parties including members of congress. memorandum.e that seems to me to undermine and i rsight ability, intend, mr. chairman, to look into this further. my letterke to answer and the e.p.a.'s response into record. so entered. -- he gentle woman from
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being here, mr. meiburg and mr. sullivan. misconduct gives all federal name.yees a bad ur goal is to work swiftly and thoroughly in cases like these. today we've heard about the new policies and information-sharing processes at the e.p.a. and the ig. sullivan you stated since he hearing in 2015 on misconduct, the agency's process has dramatically improved; is correct? that's ms. kelly, correct. > mr. meiburg, these have changed through policy and process and not through change.ive
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>> that's correct. your agency in have -- >> congresswoman, i do, in fact, that.e it is always the case that we always do better and we strive to do that. but we believe we have the tools agency to execute effective conduct and discipline. >> it's important to remember protections are there for a reason. in 2018 the board issued a that stated more than a century ago the government spoiled system in which employees could be reason including ofbership of any other party and more.ent constitutional due process law ctions rose from the that congress enacted to fix
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that broken system. r. meiburg, is it necessary to address serious misconduct. >> we believe that we can misconduct ous -- ugh the >> steamlined the disciplinary congress? agree with that. by-weekly meetings have dramatically improved the process. >> thank you. to me that agencies currently have the tools to deal with allegations of misconduct they sometimes do not use efficiently and respectfully as they could. exactly how this he commission can implement
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procedures. >> thank you. i'll recognize myself for five minutes. sullivan, thank you for the workmony and the dedicated of your office of the inspector e.p.a. of the e red cross nuys your progress while still act neologying there re still many ongoing challenges. we know long term reforms and to personnel more than requires just new procedures and updated manuals. >> yes, sir, i do. meiburg, you're currently serving on one of the top epa;ership positions in the right? >> yes. about re pretty astute
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the law. i'm not a lawyer. to hat's not more for me judge. administrator who made the decision in that case so you're pretty familiar with personnel management; right? yes. over the course of my years aye me a number of cases before as the deciding official. yourn you please summarize job description today? >> i am the agency's chief officer and i perform as the ssigned to me administrator. epa deputy he acting administrator and you should understand the law; right? i am serving in -- >> no but you should understand law. you're predicating this on
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understanding the law and all you should be h below you and the president has lso nominated you to serve as the epa administrator. can't serve e you in an acting capacity for an for?ce you're nominated >> i'm aware and have been that my y counsel service is lawful. >> do you realize that your have no force and effect under the law. you're the ceo. laws. applying these they basically go away. i would like to have the name of that gave you that information because it's in total violation of federal statute and law. provide that to the committee? do es, we'll be happy to that. >> have you ever discussed with epa that you cannot serve as the acting deputy director after you've serve in the to
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same office? are you certained your actions challenged given they under force or affect the law. > >>. >> again, i was assured -- i would like all names that told you that. violation of the law. i want all individuals that gave consultation's name and titles. our actions in the defiance of the law by your agency and the administration baffles me. me.does not surprise the epa under this president has long history of disregard for disrespect for this oversight committee. n numerous occasions, strayer
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mccarthy not only broke the law y lying to congress but also lied to the american people in misguided and overrea -- an affront to he core principles to our republic and our law. you actually sitting here ceo, being ng the offered to that office by the to president is an affront that. that's why i've introduced to cles of impreachment remove mccarthy from office. but before you get too excitedna a massive promotion, i think you should step down as well. it's against the law. plain and simple. he personnel management at the pa is a mess but that's not surprising when the leading
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officials are law breakers themselves. you have created that. we will make somebody atone for their actions. it's actually sad that we have particularly when you should know the rules better. nd that goes along with the counsel. so i will expect those names of titles unsel and their immediately to this committee for review. disgusted. and i'm womanrecognize the gentle from district of columbia, ms. norton. >> thank you. to get back to one of the themes this hearing, i've been about the to hear testimony that's been given on improved coordination between ig. and the the reason that interests me is to reduceviously want
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the time that employees spend on administrative leave when they're not doing anything for the agency. in the nterested investigative process. i recognize that it takes time. you can't cut corners. you can be sued. understand that some of these investigations can be very complex. , i'm interested in the unding available to agency to do the job that needs in investigating. can you tell me what the are for the team hat investigates misconduct allegations? >> yes, ma'am. i could tell you general approximately 34
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other agents working a fraud, threat, and misconduct cases in this the field. > staffing levels like this reminds me about what we're seeing on television with tsa. this is alleve that because everybody has decided to get on a plane. point congress has to understand that if you thereeople to do the job, has to be a certain number of people to do it. thing and they've been under great criticism because they've not always been to the keep, according from getting pons
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through. ande're constantly juggling obviously we prioritize every ay almost like an emergency
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room, you triage, we investigate and handle the most important ases first, but you still have to take care of the other cases that are in the pipeline. the nonemployee misconduct misconduct-related investigations that the ig conducts. >> approximately 60% of our cases are a combination of the threat cases, theft. cases of not theft by employees but hefts from outside, someone getting into a federal authority and stealing computers. > i wish you luck with the appropriations process. >> thank you, ma'am. the gentleman from michigan. you you have five minutes. thank you. this is not the
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irst time this committee has investigated the epa on their foia practices. epa is notorious for very long delays in responding to foia requests. ne of our previous experts, mark edwards, a water expert, waited severalhe years for his foia request to be completed. of his requests for filled appeared before this committee on the flint issue. i s case, as well as others, believe very clearly and should diminish the public's confidence epa's ability to be open and transparent. ould you tell us why it takes
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epa so long for these foia filled? to be >> congressman, i'll speak very generally on this. e take our foia responsibilities very seriously nd we have found in recent years an increase in the number of foia requests we've received. to that we've a foia put together assistance team in searching documents and making sure we're responsive. initiated? that team >> about a year ago. >> have you seen improvements on that? >> we're working hard. don't have statistics for you today but i can get back to you with that information. i appreciate that.
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>> congressman, we've made a changes to put in place better systems for keeping activities that occur and flagging anything that would be suspect. like we've made progress on this in the last couple of
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years. audit, we'veancial had a clean audit the last several years but we're always follow up and make sure we have appropriate systems any ace to detect misconduct. >> why is it that epa employees who spend thousands of dollars epa taxpayer money on personal expenses can get away reimburse theg to agency? we have been -- we're -- obviously we share your concern about that. he cases that are before us over are cases that we're for the most part -- were over a couple of years ago. we have made progress going forward to identify those cases and address them. the particular individual money on ded
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the individual actually presented oure we findings to the agency and then agency low up, the preliminarily determined that it was too difficult to decide of 22,000 how many may have been manipulated. mr. meiburg said taking a look at it and present that bill to the former employee.
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but want to see that effort in the end if there's fraudulent or criminal involvement with employee, i would hope that we could get after them. not, we would like to be able ruining the yees credibility of other good government employees attempting to do the job in the best way possible. yet, the cloud is put on them ecause of people willing to misuse their purposes and the tools that they have. so help us out with that. i yield back. i now recognize the gentleman from south carolina. >> thank you. i want to go back and follow up a couple of questions that were raised during your with mr. palmer. he was talking specifically a circumstance in alabama where -- to use his language -- allegedly n overzealous epa employee.
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all the time.s
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temptation may be -- to say i'm going to push harder here. this ing to stick it to person. do you remember a single circumstance of anybody at the fired for that in your 40 years now. > congressman, i appreciate your observation about the job f law enforcement is not often a popular job. i'm not aware in my own a case that is similar to what i'm hearing you overused or who bused their authority and was consequently terminated for that reason. if look into that and see there is such a thing. someone being , exceededus and perhaps their authority. would that rise to the level of something the oig would look at?
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but this is the first i'm hearing about this issue. has not been referred to this mistaken.i'm not >> have you ever investigated overreaching s of authority on behalf of -- on the part of an epa employee? yes. >> do you recall anybody ever being terminated for those -- that action? >> off the top of my head i how recall specifically the cases were adjudicated. had for example, we allegations of people using their position to get a favor, readily that's not available to a regular citizen. instances.of we've also had instances where used government property to their personal gain.
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misused the government vehicle. government funds. >> and there was actually a itrly high profile, at least is to us, about the employee in i guess the san francisco area lent out a trailer or a piece of equipment to an group, mentalist something like that. are you gentlemen familiar with those facts and circumstances? i am familiar with that case. >> and the employee wasn't fired. >> wasn't fired. >> what does it take to get fired from the epa. i have to do? do i have to kill somebody or is just short of that. >> it would be just short of that. the done investigations and kinds of behavior are not pleasant and not the things you ever want an employee to engage in. but when they engage in those case-by-case basis,
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making sure that as the deciding official, you have all the facts, the allegation is proven, hat you've followed the regulation of the process that you do, in fact, terminate employees. me understand, mr. meiburg, and, i recognize that in generalities, you're dealing with allegations of impropriety and them to be valid, what percentage of people quit versus get fired under those circumstances? uncommon that people who find themselves faced with a proposed termination will election to retire or design. > and they get to keep their benefits; right? >> we have no authority under law. they get to , yes, keep their benefits. in limited cases
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triage or espionage. >> if we gave you that dditional tool to on a case by case basis or expand it to deny to le who have been found have acted improperly. to deny them some or all of benefits even if they or resigning ent their termination. but that would help you. speculation but i couldn't say. time. do it all the thank you. womanrecognize the gentle -- the
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management ure if failures, that characterization one but i priate wanted to discuss what has occurred since last april. it's my understanding that the epa has taken significant steps o address weaknesses in the disciplinary process. i don't think that necessarily firing a bunch of people means a good that may be the sign of a poor anager that constantly has to fire people rather than bring hem up to speed and make them an appropriate worker. but mr. meiburg, you state as a of the work of this committee and especially ranking couplings, we have can
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ou pleasing s do you wish to elaborate? how is it different than your previously? >> i really couldn't say for the agency as a whole from before gotten here but i think there's been reachout on both sides and it's really commendable. >> mr. sullivan, would you agree with that. nd your statement i'm going to quote from you that the agency's internal adjudication process dramatically improved. is that correct? >> yes. and i'll explain the difference. for example, if we had a misconduct investigation in
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francisco, the folks at headquarters had very little visibility on that and it months or h for we meet by-weekly heretofor. absolutely, yes, ma'am. and you have evidence of that quantitative evidence of that >> yes. tell you that within the past year, we've successfully -- the agency has determined what disciplinary if any and we've success fly closed our cases out
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rate.much higher >> okay. and you've been -- have you been satisfied with the agency dations that the has made on those cases? >> ma'am, that's something to collect job is the facts in a fair and unbiased manner. my opinion is not relevant discipline is appropriate or not. >> i understand. you say you believe this is for the practices model federal government. is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. taking an effort to reach out to the entire ig a munity using the epa as model to educate the rest of the ig community that maybe there's get these cases to move faster government wide. alleviate that would this committee having to have as and hearings as they've had we can get on with the actual
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work of congress if we were to that. but would you support efforts to support government wide action on this and would your office work with this committee to do that? certainly do support that. we have worked with the committee. but one caveat. epa, we're somewhat unique hat we don't have any sub components. if you take dhs or the they have of justice, multiple sub components. have you thought about what would work in agencies like that? >> no, ma'am. you thinking on this, mr. sullivan. [laughter] you.hank >> it seems that epa and ig have hown that better communication can help agencies provide action more quickly. grateful for the work that you've done since april from your first hearing to actually of these issues,
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move these cases along to closure. i don't believe having managed many people working at the the tment of justice, with deputy attorney general's office managing 9,000 attorneys that firing of people is the measure by which one determines that you've done a of dealing terms with misconduct. i'm grateful for the work that the ll have done and yield balance of my time. housekeeping. mr. meiburg, we would like to the how many employees of epa get bonuses? >> we'll supply that. it. e would appreciate >> i also want to make sure that we have dates certain. titles of the d people that gave you the permission. would expect those in two weeks. can't be very many. but i expect them in two weeks. a task master. mr. sullivan, are you aware of federal vacancies reform act
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>> >> generally. aware of anybody who had the same plausible conflict made aware of in this committee with mr. meiburg. > i'm generally aware of the issue involving mr. meiburg but we were told by the agency that based on theirue counsel's opinion. but we have not investigated that issue to my knowledge. have the names of the people you consulted at the talking gave the points? >> right. our counsel's office, i know i briefed that there's an issue. i will get back to the committee on that. i'll let you know. yeah. i guess we have a gentleman ight here, mr. duncan from tennessee is recognized for five minutes. >> that's all right since i just got here. go ahead. >> so with that i would love within two weeks as ell, the counsel that you talked to about that.
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>> i didn't speak directly to them. i was just briefed in my office my counsel's office i believe or at a meeting that this issue came up and it's not -- to the agency's general counsel, it's not an issue. told. what i was >> i would like from your counsel, the counsel from the pa that actually instructed that this was not a problem. >> yes, sir. >> you see the problem >> yes. > according to the federal vacancies reform act, anything that mr. meiburg may be may be null and void. we're building here is predicated on the culture that exists from the top levels. you do lead by example and in 's what the problem is this application. > i understand the task and will get back to you. >> i'm sorry, mr. chairman, i was on the floor and didn't get hear some of this. but i am curious. the material of
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here of some of these employees who have been watching all this hours at a time, and then employees that admitted tealing thousands of dollars from the epa. these employees -- or have any of these employees been fired? >> mr. congressman, again, -- of the cases that we looked at here, many of longer withs are no the agency. there were cases where people ere proposed for termination and they resigned. >> so you don't have any epa who now at the have been found to have stolen oney or have spent hours watching pornography and so forth? or resigned.r left >> congressman, there are resigned or have been terminated and there are mployees who have been disciplined in other means.
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some are still with the agency. ways do you discipline somebody like that? >> congressman, there's a wide disciplinary actions available to a deciding official based on consideration of all factors such as how long the employee has been with the severity of the crime, the severity of the misconduct. fromhey can go all the way reprimands to suspensions for a period of time to a reduction in grade. i'm assuming that you've changed some of these policies this type of hat activity doesn't continue in the future. >> yes, we've changed a number policies. i think the staff came up and on fed the committee staff policies and changes we've made specifically with respect to the viewing of pornography. so, yes. >> all right. thank you very much. >> i thank the gentleman. if there's no further business. witnesses for their
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appearance here today. further business, without objection, the committee stands adjourned. >> thank you, paul.
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congratulations to the class
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of 2016. today is your day of celebration and you've earned it. >> the voices crying for peace because your choices will make all the difference to you and to all of us. don't be afraid to take on a new job or a new stretches yourly boundaries. >> you spent your summer abroad ships rather than living in your parent's basement after this graduation day is not likely to your greatest concern. >> throughout this month watch commencement speeches to the in their entirety from colleges and universities round the country by business leaders, politicians, and white on c-span.ials >> joining us is fawn johnson policy editor f
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morning consult" here the obama us about administration and overtime pay. what do the rules say? pretty big change. it's essentially taking the people under hat which were automatically and fied for overtime it.ling the administration is taking the exact number is $47,476 a year. equals out to about $913 a week. level, s your salary they're saying almost everybody under that threshold would be for overtime pay. huge increase. e're talking 4.2 million
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workers, about a third of the full time salary workforce. would kick in in december o this year. what does the administration say why this rule was necessary now? >> well, what they're trying to is go back to the original intent of the fair labor standards act. law that set the minimum wage, set the four-hour work week. ll the things that we're kind of familiar with now under an older work place situation. manufacturing based and maybe less service based like our committee is now. ut the original intent of the law was to make sure that people class. ddle >> they've done that all along. ify wanted to make sure that you made below a certain salary threshold, it would be hard for employer to make you work
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more than 30 hours a week. the threshold has stayed at a since the 1970s. it's been adjusted a little bit that time until now. ut as you can tell with inflation obviously, a $23,000 live is not that hard to on at this point. on at this o live point. it's poverty in certain states. is by the labor department? >> most of the administration is my understanding and this is that they have been wanting to do for a while. they didn't do it without some thought. proposal that they put out came out a year ago and the actually roposal was for a higher salary threshold. little over $50,000. it was suggested it go into 90 days after the rule was published. that's a really short amount of employers to have to
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try to adjust. bit ey're giving a little back to the employer community. not mad. employer community is still bad but they're giving them more time. > talk about the labor department's efforts to raise the minimum wage. keep in mind that's been done country by states, cities, et cetera. thehe congress has to raise minimum wage, not the labor department. the wage and hour division is in charge of making sure people are paid hat they should be but they're not being cheated -- hired as a being contractor when they're actually an employee for the administration. they're allowed breaks and for example. >> yeah. lot hat they worry about a is people who are effectively hourly workers but are being or salary gers
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employees for the sake of having employer not have to pay them what the law says that they are entitled to. there evidence that those types of descriptions of workers last creased since the time this was raised, and when was the last time it was raised? wage?e minimum >> the overtime pay. overtime t time the pay was adjusted was in 2004. base salary level wasn't adjusted that much. it at the level that nly covered less than 10% of the workforce. it was under the bush administration. controversial role. think of a shift manager at a restaurant, if that
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managerial -- it was a fight that took place appropriations process in congress for an entire year before the democrats off. y backed >> fawn johnson with us talking rule by the w administration set to go into in december on overtime pay. e're going to break up our lines to hear from you about how or will impact you.
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we will get to your calls momentarily. want to play the comments spokesman, esident's josh earnest on the projected of this. here's what he had to say. this would anticipate that executive action that would overtime protections to more than 4 million american workers. definition, these are 4 million of the hardest working americans. working lready overtime. the president believes that they hould be paid fairly for their work. and the economic impact is also significant. according c impact, to our estimates, is that increase byes would $12 billion over the next ten years as a result of this rule. impactful way for us to ensure american workers and to do irly
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something that many people have identified as an important goal hich is to put upward pressure on wages. we've seen strong economic country, strong trends related to job creation. have not seen much progress made on increasing country. this and this is a tangible example of how we can do that. this is finition increasing wages for people who a year or less. so this is consistent with the president's strategy that our going to be strongest when we're growing from the forle out and we're looking opportunities to expand economic pportunity for middle class families and those families orking hard to get to the middle class host: fawn johnson, what are you the message there? guest: essentially they're trying to make sure that they're middle protect the
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class. this is an easy talking point and the rats administration. for everybody really. it's not that difficult. they're trying to also -- they're trying to argue against the push back that comes the employer-based community that says this would be very difficult for them. employers across the board including nonprofits i would add, have been very concerned rule because it is a -- if nothing else, it's a uge administrative change for them which is going to cost a lot of money. so what we have is the administration basically saying going to increase our economy and wages by $12 billion. that will outweigh whatever it costs. number of nonprofits testified before house see that on u can their reaction is entry level positions are going
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to disappear and those employees fall back into hourly jobs. many are struggling now and to make tough choices that might affect the workers whom the labor department thinks it's helping. >> they weighed in pretty strongly. it?against >> p against it'd, yes. but i think -- that was always expected. when you put out a rule like this, i mean, this is to how wages ge are regulated in the united states. it's probably the biggest relation that the administration going to put out this year if not perhaps for most of the for obama. it affects everybody, all work places. so we would expect that the protest community would that because that's going to cost them a lot of money. >> right. >> the thing that i think was to me is to see how much -- it did seem like the administration listened a little
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bit. never going to back off adding 4 million people category of cular having some overtime protections. how our c-span viewers are reacting. florida., good morning to bob. welcome, go ahead. >> good morning. yes. yes. explain uld you please to the folks the difference that you were speaking about and law meaning i seem to y by the nd this rule president i would assume is the same thing as please , creating -- explain the difference there guest: sure. i really appreciate the
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for asking this question because people sometimes get confused. the administration, whatever the is, the white house in this case, the obama ability ation, has the to set rules if congress gives them the authority to do so. case, this particular congress gave the administration to set the standard by which for e were eligible overtime. they did this a long time ago, decades ago. so this is a final rule. that means unless there's a some sort of action on behalf of congress to stop into effect in december. we were talking earlier about the minimum wage. different set. the administration does not have the authority to set the minimum wage. hat's something only congress can do federally and what states levels.n other under the statute, the fair abor standards act, it's the administrations call at the end
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it's written that it hopes o get ahead of the 60-legislative day provision in the congressional review act. new rule is made final, the congressional review act ives congress 60 legislative somedays to vote to overturn the rule with a simplena jarty, not to the fill buster. mr. obama doesn't want congress be able to see who the next president is -- what we can review there.ed under the clinton administration in the very final days of the clinton administration, they
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rule on this big erring no, ma'amic which is in the lly how you sit gonomic which is essentially how you sit in the work space. massively rejected by the business community. effectively rescinded by the bush administration. to deal with a filibuster or anything like that. it was a henley win for the business community but since then, administrations have taken that and they realize they need to get their put into place, they need 180 day within the window. host: we have laurie from illinois.d, hi there guest: hi host: you're on the air.
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ahead, laurie. you there? air.e on the host: i'm going to move on to towson, maryland. welcome. caller: how are you? fine, thank you caller: i'm a county worker here n baltimore and i make under 50,000. and i do pull overtime and they for me comp time is this going to affect us? salary ow much is your right now? caller: i'm sorry? under so you say you're 50,000; is that right? aller: yes guest: are you under 47,000. >> i'm probably right at that threshold. under a quick question, the law, anybody considered for overtime, our caller would fit into this new rule, der the
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anybody eligible for overtime annot be given compensatory timoff for overtime. employers are not allowed to do that. they're d explain why not giving you comp time for your overtime. people would actually like that, prefer to have some off rather than getting paid extra for the hours worked. from have been efforts congress to change that. denying that. the idea is if you're going to ork a 60-hour work week, that takes a toll on you and you extra no matter what host: good morning to terry also 50,000 nder caller: yes. that's correct. 24,500. how estion is i don't see
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this rule can apply for me. the only tax break i ever got on was when the bush administration had a tax law allowed me so much back. when that expired, it was taken time i it was the last saw a raise guest: one of the things that -- just a question, are you a of any sort? caller: i do both. i run shop and i
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administrative type duties. that hasn't changed under this particular rule. it's a very heavily litigated part of the law, and as our we might find, especially because she is running in office, that she is exempt, which would mean she would not be eligible for overtime. host: and i said new law. i should be clear, it's a new rule. we are asking for your thoughts. for those of you under $50,000 a , for those of you making over that, and from business owners, we would love to hear from you as well.
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caller: good morning. i think the federal government is doing something. a person making seven dollars toy five cents an hour, it takes 10 years -- seven dollars tiny five cents an hour, it takes 10 years to make one year of the politicians salary. plus, they get an expense account. congress should pass it. they won't even pass infrastructure that would provide the jobs. they wanted to pass keystone in the first 100 days. it's hurting the people. and the people need to realize that a lot of people are drinking out of the well of the taxpayer. it's the politicians. they treat us -- you know who controls it? the chamber of commerce. we have companies coming in to control it. you know what they tell them?
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we can't pay a certain amount of of it.because they are doing a good job.
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host: host: that's herbert in georgia guest: i feel like herbert has done a good job bringing this out. the federal minimum wage is low. a lot of states have raised it higher than that because you can't live on that. it's also true that groups like the chamber of commerce and other groups have fought hard to keep the minimum wage low. in fairness, they are saying
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that cost them a lot of money, and they want to employ people. if you start putting in more wage requirements, especially in a middle-class category, it will prevent them from hiring them and creating more business. that has been their argument all along, and they are pretty effective at it. caller: where does the executive branch and the attitude of congress, who seem basically to not care anything about it, because they run their entire intellect off of polls, and if was abraham, it lincoln who said once we start running our country off of opinion polls, that will be the downfall of our country. wondering, systemically, how does this keep exacerbating from the federal level? and what can be done to prevent it or reverse it so we don't destroy our economy? we ask you quickly what kind of business you run and how many folks would be affected?
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caller: it's an guest: and how internet business and it employs over 1000. many of your employees would be affected. host: i just lost him there. guest: so we do not know. the tech community has weighed in saying it would be difficult for startups. it is no secret that employees and startups work long hours and do not get paid in the beginning because you get paid later. i am glad we had an internet caller. host: overtime updates will extend projections to 4.2 million workers. next up is centreville, massachusetts. phil makes between $50,000 and $100,000. caller: good morning, the business community. i do not see what they are harping about. their top executives ceos are , making millions a year, plus bonuses. you tell me they cannot pay the workers that are actually doing the work a little more money? poor people do not save their money because they have to spend it.
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it would go back into the economy. with the executives, what rich people do, they tend to save their money and for the most part hides their money on offshore bank account. so, i mean, i think it is disingenuous for congress to sit up there and try to make the american people seem like they do not deserve a break when main street has been getting breaks for the past 40 years. host: are we expecting congress to react to this with legislation? guest: they will react, i do not think they will be successful. i think there are a couple of different things they can do, they can pass -- there is our it he and process what they call resolution of disapproval, that does not do very much. it just says, we disapprove. the place where it can really cause a bit of trouble is if they were to try -- if republicans were to try to attach an amendment to the funding bill that funds the
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labor department and those are the controversial policy riders that tend to get in the way of the year and spending bills. if republicans were to add such an amendment, the president would put a veto threat onto the spending bill and that is when you start toying with government shutdown, so my guess is it will not go that far. i do not think republicans want to be responsible for that kind of thing. host: they tweeted, after the rule was released, this is the step in the right direction, and good news for millions of workers. you can tweet us @cspanwj. christie says obama changes the democrats or republicans. sandy says, what prevents businesses from reducing employees hours to keep them under 40 or laying off easy
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workarounds? guest: nothing, that is the question and that is an argument we see from the -- from "the wall street journal" and other places. they are arguing the $12 billion will get turned into the economy because of these extra overtime payment are not going to happen. what employers would do, they would stop people working extra hours. i have heard accounts of employers suggesting they would not let their employees take work home with them or that they would have their new managers start at a lower salary member -- salary numbers so they could account for the extra overtime being paid. there is nothing the administration can do about that. that will not happen in every case and i think the understanding is, as we heard from some of our callers, there is not a ton of sympathy for the business community and employers. they say, we would like you to
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pay workers a living wage in one way or another. there are a lot of businesses that will try to find ways around it and it will probably not help the workers by the state cutting their hours. host: a real inside congress question, in the enabling legislation -- allow for inflation increases? what is enabling legislation? guest: let's be clear about this, the role does allow for an inflation increase, which means every three years it would be the salary -- the salary level would be adjusted and it is based on the lower -- lowest paid region in the country. it will not keep track with inflation, necessarily, but there is an adjustment built into the rule here is the
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business community believes that is an overreach on the part of the administration and it is probably going to sue over that because under the fair labor standards act it says the labor secretary has the authority to periodically adjust the salary level for overtime pay. it does not say they can do it automatically. host: once again, it is not legislation, it is the rule propagated by the administration. we go to matthew in -- who makes under $50,000. caller: i am retired, but i made 27,000 a year in salary and i worked seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, for seven years. i needed some help and when i finally got to hire somebody, he was on non-salary, he was hourly, he was not able to work hours. he got overtime when he did work and he was making more than i was by being hourly. i do not see that this program -- this rule is really going to help anybody because what will happen is the company will fight it, they will lay off more people, people lose their jobs and then they have no money instead of the little bit they do have and what it is going to
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do -- if i told everyone listening right now i will send out a check for $100 to everyone in the united states, i would have everyone's attention and they would be happy. i cannot do that, and the president is promising something he cannot do so people will vote for hillary or bernie and it is a political deal and set of something that will actually help people. if he was going to help people he would've done it seven and a half years ago and still -- instead of waiting until the end of his term to do something like this. -- instead of waiting until the end of his term to do something like this. i am really aggravated on the policies he comes up with at the end here that are not to help americans, but the help the next democrat may be coming in. it does not seem like he is really doing any good for the country. thank you host:. thank you. guest: i find it fascinating to
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hear that kind of reaction to it is true that the administration is selling this particular rule as an influx of cash for the middle class, but it is not true that he is not doing anything. this is actually a huge change, if it holds up in court, which is the place it may be a little bit of trouble, it will change how employers and the salary level and the way the workplace works for the next eight or nine years. host: our color in georgia talked about the politics of policy moonshine delight on vice presidential picks talking about the labor secretary, but on secretary perez they write, the labor secretary stood with vice president in ohio to formally unveiled changes to overtime work rules.
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administrative officials and close associates, he writes, and since the policy rules have been in effect for years and have nothing to do with jockeying for the vice presidency but every move by castro and perez is now scrutinized by a political prism. ,uest: right, and i think, that to me, it is always interesting when you get close to an election that people watching, we have a whole list of people both for donald trump and hillary clinton has said as their possible vice president of nominee and who they would be and how they would affect the electorate. tom perez has been on the list for a while, although i think for most people -- for hillary clinton, julia castro is the most likely choice. one of the things you can see ish perez, in particular, his ability to talk about wages, particularly wages in the middle
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class and how people are being offered for those wages. just judging from the people who have called into the show, today, you can see that message resonates. sometimes we do not believe it, necessarily, but he is a good salesman for it and a good salesman for making the case that all we are trying to do is recapture what we had back in which is what we said, if you were relatively middle-class, we wanted to make sure employers could not exploit you by making you work more and less there was a reason. say you are a manager or starting a business or a law degree and you are billing by the hour. that is what they intended in the sick -- in the 1960's and that has changed because the economy has changed and the workforce has changed. host: in a piece on the labor secretary, "the new york times" says he coming labor secretary in 2014, mr. perez has continued to be an advocate for underdogs and most recently issuing new
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laws to protect investors. he has found a surprisingly receptive audience against permission- reduce -- pollution and promote well-being. host: let's get to a business owner in new castle, indiana. caller: thank you for taking my call. this change, i think, is long overdue. the reason why i say that, i have seen changes in the way repaying, hired and or gotten rid of across the spectrum of type of work. i live in an area that is fairly rural, fairly low wages compared to the coast. the numbers they are talking about, as far as people getting paid salary, would be laughable if i was living in philadelphia or say, san francisco.
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the amount of money they are talking about is the difference ,etween people surviving getting their kids fed and , and the- clothed lights caps on. -- kept on. when employers can hire people and say, i am a contractor, for me, for example. say i have to work on a house, i have to take hours in the day to get that done them a so i hire some people, we will say day laborers, but even employees. or has it -- as it is around here, contract employees, because they all get a 1099 at the end of the year because they are not really my employee. i say, i will pay you $100 a day to get this job done by the end of the day. depending on how the job is, they could work for teen -- 14 hours a day, but they will only make x amount.
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that is not really a living wage for a lot of them if after the eighth hour, they are into the ninth hour, still pumping shingles, the sun beating down, they are working harder and harder and that is time they are not at home. not enjoying their life or taking care of their kids are other commitments they have. that was the intent of the fair labor standards act, so that people were not in the salt mine all day. as an employer, i am cognizant of work -- of that because i have been a working person. i know what it is like to not be able to meet the bill. i think this is a small baby step toward fairness in the workplace because there have been so many workarounds in the last generation of employers not wanting to hire people because of the tax killer, because of the insurance, because of the different things. the burden is borne by the working person. host: all right, kurt, a
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contractor in indiana. guest: i am in just think to hear what you talked about, he has gone through a lot of different ways of paying people true their jobs and it is that, if you are an employer, you spend a lot of time thinking about, what is the best way to get this particular job done. i also notice, we have heard from a couple of business owners who do not seem to have a ton of sympathy for the outcry about this. there are laws about how people are supposed to be paid and all this does is update it. it is a huge change, but it is something that labor unions in particular have been saying it is long overdue. you do not want someone making $30,000 a year forced to work 80 hours. host: you said it is an update to the fair labor standards act, it could have been fixed or updated legislatively. guest: it could have been, the fair labor standards act is one of the laws that, as soon as
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members in congress start going and playing around with it, that immediately brings up a minimum wage because that is part of the fair labor standards act and it brings up all sorts of other questions. time ihave seen, every have seen legislation introduced or even if there is an effort to move it in congress to change pieces of it am it becomes difficult because automatically all of the other wage related issues that are covered under the fair labor standards act come piling on and try to change it. it becomes very difficult and that is why -- one of the reasons we have not seen a lot of change in congress aside from wendy administration comes out with a rule -- aside from wednesday administration comes out with a rule. caller: i just want to say i am very happy that this past through because so many people, at least from what i know in columbus and dayton, they are working a lot of hours only getting paid a certain amount
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with salary. to me, i do not think that is fair. i make hourly, but my wife, she actually makes $50,000 a year, she is in management, but she visa. i am just curious, does this help her out or apply to her? guest: it would apply to anyone on an h1b visa. these are for people from a -- another country and brought in to work for a limited amount of time, sometimes 3-6 years or longer. this particular case we are talking about, making $50,000 is above the threshold. so it would not change how she is paid extra. host: let's hear from charles in lynchburg who makes over $100,000. caller: i have a background in corporate management and owning
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a small business and i have worked in a turnaround for many years. what is going to happen, i think, as has happened in the past, the ruby a lot of commotion by business owners about this. in the end they have to have a certain amount of time -- it will adjust, those business guys that cannot adjust will go out of business, that is the capital system, we think that is a good thing. the people who can adjust are the ones we want to stay in business and i think they will. i think that sums it up. guest: i would not disagree with that, it is a huge change to ask employers to deal with right now. the next six months will be tough for them, because there is actually -- there are systems that process paychecks that do not even have the ability to log people's hours right now, so they have to build them and then there is the sense of, how do you handle payroll, particularly
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for small businesses, this will be an adjustment. peopleess -- less punching a clock or filling out a timesheet. particularly for the smaller businesses, they have not had to deal with this and it will be tough for the next six months. as our caller noted, there are ways to adjust. probably the sky will not fall for everybody. it could mean there are some workers who are not allowed to work from home or take work home . starting salaries for some employees are lower to make up for the overtime they would make later. those are the kinds of things that happen as businesses adjust . in general, all it means is there is a new threshold now and it is much higher than the old threshold and that will change over time, how employers set their salary schedules. host: a question on the rule from sea of tranquility, being
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in management means you do not get overtime, does their -- does this new law-rule, by the hands of employers who want to test management skills? guest: i do not think it does anymore than it would undercurrent law. essentially, we are talking about anyone who has any sort of managerial capacity, me, for example, i run a newsroom, i am exempt from any overtime protections because of that. let's say i wanted to take one of my reporters and try to train them as a manager. host: and they are making under this threshold. guest: maybe, this is the question you have to deal with. it can get to be a little bit of a difficult question. let's say they start doing half of their job as a managerial job and all of a sudden that may kick them into the realm of being what they call exempt from overtime rule. question, none of
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that is changing from existing law. you might take outside counsel to tell you at what point does a trainee become exempt from overtime laws. they have a whole raft of legal knowledge based on the last 20 years that they can pull from, nothing in the rule changes that . it is an individual question. it has always been a little fuzzy, and it will continue to be fuzzy. host: host: we will get another call from a business owner. go ahead, bob. caller: nice conversation. i have a different issue. i heard you talk about how nonprofits are speaking out against this. as ahave a lot of concerns person that runs a nonprofit because a lot of micrograms are federally and -- my programs are federally in state-funded to
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feed seniors and help disabled folks. this will cause me to pit my employees against my clients. that is a big laundry for me because i am limited -- that is a big laundry for me because of the 5%. i come in under 5% so i have a little wiggle room. we are very efficient. i have a lot of employees at work overtime because of the mission of the agency to help people. based on long profits -- nonprofits, they probably don't make $40,000. caller: i have quite a few managers in this. it is interesting because i'm doing with this and then i have minimum wages. i am very happy for this. i think people taking care of our most vulnerable should have increases. but what i am not seeing is that variance.
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admin rural also give -- rule also give? does the funding increase to cover these minimum wages and , and with sequestration and other things, it is just the opposite. it is just a big fight. when you do get an increase, it is very minimal. it does not even cover the cost of these things. host: appreciate your points. fawn johnson? guest: that is in a one point. i think we know the answer. to be clear, nothing in this rule will change necessarily the kind of government funding they goes to these kinds of programs. it is not going to change the administrative funding. it will not change the tax base. our caller is dealing with the same administrative and legal restrictions he had earlier and
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now must worry about paying his employees overtime. it is tough. host: fawn johnson is the chief lsc editor at "morning consult." >> recently, our bus stopped in massachusetts where school students attended a ceremony to students for an honorable mention video entitled "gunning for safety." the bus also made a stop in to recognize honorable mention winners for "veteran service." one student won for his video
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"lgbt writes: stop the discrimination." students received $250 for their videos. view all the winning documentaries at ceas next, president obama talks about congressional action to aund a vaccine for the zik virus. after that, a form on the role of libya in the fight against isis. topident obama met with health officials at the white kause to top about the zi virus. the cdc released a report confirming that 150 seven pregnant women in the u.s. have tested positive for the virus. president obama called on congress to fund treatment


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