This is great news--the White House has caved in to the pressure to rescind the suspension of the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws for the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.
Here's what I hear from my Capitol Hill sources: the president, who suspended the Davis Bacon provisions that guarantee people working on federal contracts are paid the prevailing wage, was concerned that he not be seen as caving in to Democrats. The Dems were lead by Rep. George Miller, who used a little known parliamentary motion to force a vote on the suspension.
Under pressure, Bush agreed to rescind the suspension by December 8th. But at least one Republican said that he would vote for the Miller resolution if the suspension was not lifted earlier. And no question that the fact that the Building Trades put pressure on Congressional Republicans (37 signed the letter to Bush supporting the reinstatement of Davis Bacon) helped. In any case, Bush caved. The suspension will be lifted on November 8th.
Wimpy Democrats, are you paying attention? A hooray for Miller who showed that if you have some spine and stand up for workers, you can win--okay, so it's not always easy but Miller at least gets major hugs and congrats for putting his butt on the line. And kudos to the AFL-CIO which generated 350,000 emails out on this battle.
Here's the release from Rep. George Miller's office:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bowing to pressure from a united Democratic front, a small group of members of his own party, the religious community, and the labor movement, President Bush announced today he would reverse the decision he made in September to remove wage protections for construction workers in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
After Katrina, the President suspended the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal contractors to pay at least the prevailing wage to construction workers in a local area. The president's action, which was widely denounced, followed requests from right-wing activists and Republican members of Congress who exploited Katrina to achieve a long-sought ideological agenda item.
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, led the effort in the House to force Bush to rescind his Gulf Coast wage cut.
"President Bush finally realized that his Gulf Coast wage cut was a bad idea that hurt the workers and their families affected by Katrina," said Miller. "But let me be clear - the President is backing down today only because he had no other choice.
"The President's wage cut was just another example of his incompetence as a leader in a time of crisis and of his constant need reward the private agenda's of his special special-interest friends rather than attend to the needs of all the people affected by this storm."
The President's wage cut was facing a congressional showdown as early as next week because of a Joint Resolution Miller recently introduced that would have forced the House to vote by early November on whether or not to allow the wage cut to stand. Miller said that Democratic action - coupled with pressure from some members of the President's own party - left the President no option but to reverse his own mistake.
Miller said that until the President formally issues a proclamation reversing the Gulf Coast wage cut, he will closely monitor the situation, and remains prepared for a vote on his Joint Resolution if necessary.
Miller also said that the Bush Administration has taken other actions that undermine Gulf Coast workers - actions that it should also reverse. These include suspending affirmative action requirements and safety standards for truck drivers.
"Americans deserve a lot better than the failed leadership our President has shown in the Gulf Coast," Miller said.
END OF MILLER RELEASE.