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Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 3992, H.R. 3110 and H.R. 2119

As prepared for delivery during today’s hearing:

Our hearing today covers three items from the Education and Labor Committee. If there is a common theme today, it is that each sounds reasonable on its face, but a deeper dive reveals troubling issues. I wish my friends in the majority had rethought each of these items, and I am disappointed that so many Republican amendments proposed to fix these issues were reflexively rejected without even considering their merits. However, I remain hopeful the entire House can do better.

The first item I’ll discuss, H.R. 3992, the Protect Older Job Applicants Act, adds the term “applicants for employment” to the list of protected individuals covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  While this sounds worthwhile, it is ultimately misguided and unnecessary. Applicants for employment are already covered by the ADEA, so this effort is at best duplicative. At worst, it could inadvertently make common recruiting tools like internship programs or job fairs at colleges and universities illegal. Certainly, additional protections must be incorporated into this bill before seeking to advance it to the president’s desk.

The second item I’ll discuss is H.R. 3110, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act. This bill expands current protections for nursing mothers in the workforce. That sounds like a worthy idea but digging deeper reveals cause for concern. A one-size-fits-all system that treats flight attendants the same as employees in executive, administrative or professional roles is absurd. 

Unlike existing law, H.R. 3110 also creates confusion over whether compensation is owed to employees utilizing the protections of this bill and would impose the greatest costs on small businesses, those least able to bear them. As with the first item, I would urge my friends in the majority to rethink this course before moving this bill to the floor.

Finally, the remaining item is H.R. 2119, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act. I understand Republicans on the Education and Labor Committee have concerns with this bill, as with the other two.  

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, particularly Mr. Walberg, who will discuss these and other concerns he and his fellow Education and Labor Committee Republicans have with these bills.

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