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House Appropriations Committee considers ‘tough bill’ that would slash OSHA funding

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Photo: DNY59/iStockphoto

Washington – A wide-ranging spending bill that proposes to cut funding for Department of Labor agencies – including OSHA – is difficult but necessary, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said July 13 during a full committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education funding bill.

“This is a tough bill to write,” Rogers said. “It’s a tough bill in tough economic times to write. The bill focuses on effective investments, responsible spending and a limited federal government.”

If approved, the bill would slash OSHA’s budget by 3.3 percent ($18.4 million) from FY 2016. The committee proposed $534.4 million in funding for OSHA, down from $552.8 million one year earlier and significantly below President Barack Obama’s request of $595 million.

The House Appropriations Committee proposal stands in contrast to that of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which in June recommended that OSHA’s funding hold steady at $552.8 million for the third consecutive year.

At press time, members of the full House and the full Senate had yet to consider their respective bills. The federal government’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1, which is when FY 2016 appropriations bills expire.

OSHA is one of several safety agencies facing a possible budget crunch. The House Appropriations Committee has allotted $350.5 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is 6.8 percent ($25.4 million) below MSHA's 2016 level. Meanwhile, the bill proposes to cut NIOSH funding by 2.9 percent ($10 million) to $329.1 million in FY 2017.

“The bill cuts the Department of Labor’s budget by ($138 million), hobbling worker protection agencies that promote safe, healthy and fair workplaces,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said during the hearing.

When contacted for a comment on the proposed budget cuts, an OSHA spokesperson said that “workers will ultimately be the victims of any cut in the worker protection budget.”

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