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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Congressional budget plan cuts funds to union watchdog agency

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Budgets and Deficits

Congress's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget cuts more than $2 million from the budget of the Labor Department division that investigates union fraud and corruption, the Office of Labor Management Standards. If enacted, the cuts would leave OLMS at its post-budget sequester levels and significantly less than the agency's height under President George W. Bush.

The budget plan gives OLMS $39.1 million for the coming fiscal year, exactly what it got after the budget sequester went into effect. Prior to that, its fiscal year 2013 budget had been $41.3 million. That was about the standard for the agency under President Obama's administration. During Bush's the OLMS budget rose as high as $47.7 million in 2007.

That coincided with then-Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's aggressive push for union financial transparency. Those efforts have been quietly rolled back under Obama's watch.

Overall, the Labor Department's budget was set at $12 billion, a cut of a half billion dollars from the previous year. So some cuts were necessary.

Yet, as Heritage Foundation labor policy analyst James Sherk notes, the cuts were not done across the board: "The appropriators gave more money to many of the Departments' agencies: the Wage and Hour Division's budget increased by $9 million, while Job Corps' budget will expand by $75 million--despite being completely ineffective. Congress boosted the Mine Safety and Health Administration's budget by $19 million, and OSHA's budget by $17 million. Agency after agency in the Labor Department saw its spending rise."

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