Michigan congressman spearheads repeal of Obama-era federal contract regulation

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) says there was no due process under the old rule when companies were...
Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) says there was no due process under the old rule when companies were denied federal contracts. (GRAYDC)
Published: Apr. 4, 2017 at 2:50 PM CDT
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President Trump is trying to get some companies back to work. He says the latest rollback of an Obama-era regulation will do just that. The rule denied federal contracts to companies engaging in misconduct. Opponents say its implementation was unfair. The repeal of this executive order has given some companies a new life.

“Trump’s action and Congress’s action was very welcome,” said Ben Brubeck, vice president of Associated Builders and Contractors.

He says the Obama administration’s Executive Order hammered business with regulations and denied federal contracts to companies that committed, or were accused of, workplace violations in previous years.

“Both union and non union contractors will be better off by having this rule gone, because it was really crafted hastily and created a lot more confusion and issues than I think it intended to solve,” said Brubeck.

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) helped spearhead the repeal.

“They could be eliminated from federal contracting even if it’s an allegation, before it was adjudicated,” said Mitchell. “This country is based on the rule of law. It would be nice if we applied it when in fact we’re procuring services.”

Supporters of the Obama administration rule say it wasn’t intended to bar companies from getting contracts, but to make sure they cleaned up their act. Bill Samuel, legislative director of the AFL-CIO, says workers’ interests are off to a rough start under the new administration.

“It’s not a good sign, for sure,” said Samuel. “We had really hoped that this administration would leave this rule in place. The business community has been unhappy with it from the beginning. Of course they don’t want to have to disclose these past violations.”

Samuel says there are really no protective screens in place when it comes to companies getting federal work.

“The federal contracting system is rigged to the extent that companies continue to get federal dollars without having to clean up their act and be good actors, and I think that’s going to continue until the government gets a hold of this process,” said Samuel.

Samuel hopes the Trump administration will weed out bad actors. Mitchell and Brubeck say there are protections still in place that will do so.