OSHA Update: Good Budget News from Congress

Good Budget News for OSHA

Last June we reported some good budget news for OSHA from the Senate, and now it’s gotten a bit better. Conferees from the House and the Senate have just agreed on a budget for OSHA for Fiscal Year 2019 beginning on October 1. Both Houses still have to pass the final bill and the President has to sign it, which probably won’t happen until December.

The better news is that the final total for OSHA is $557,787,000, $1 million more than the Senate had originally agreed on last June and almost $9 million more than the President’s request. The total includes $10,537,000 for the Susan Harwood Worker Training grant program that Trump has been trying to kill, and $3.5 million for the Voluntary Protection Programs. The new total is a increase of $5 million over the FY 2018 budget of $552,787,000. It’s not clear yet exactly where that $5 million is allocated, although the President’s budget had requested $5 million more for enforcement and $3 million more for compliance assistance.

The bill also provides $102,850,000 to OSHA state plans — a $2 million increase over FY 2018 and the first increase for the state plans since FY 2014.  The state plan budget still has not recovered from pre-sequestration levels when it totaled $104,196,000 in FY 2012.

The bill also requires that agency to fund the Harwood program’s longer-term capacity building development grants which the agency had eliminated in FY 2017.

The House FY 2019 appropriations bill had originally cut $7 million from OSHA’s budget and proposed to eliminate the Harwood program as requested in Trump’s budget proposal.  The President’s budget has requested $549,033,000 for OSHA and only $100,165,000 for the state plans.

Scott Mugno, MIA

What has become of Scott Mugno, Trump’s nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?

Mugno has gone through a Senate confirmation hearing and has been approved by the committee (twice), but his nomination still languishes on the floor of the Senate along with fellow Department of Labor hostages Cheryl Stanton (Wage & Hour Administration) and William Beach (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had cancelled most of the Senate’s August recess, supposedly to provide time to confirm more nominees. But still nothing. And now the Senate is busy with a Supreme Court nominee and the budget, with mid-term elections looming.

According to rumors via Chris Opfer at Bloomberg Law, there was a deal floating where Mugno, Stanton and Beach would be confirmed in return for the reappointment of Mark Gaston Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board. But apparently the White House, spurred on by the business lobby, hates Pearce, a Democrat, much more than they love the DOL appointees.  As Opfer explains “Pearce was a key player in establishing Obama administration workplace policy during his time as chairman. His critics don’t want to give him another opportunity to lead the board if Democrats win back the White House in 2020.”

Oh well….

As I said before, the betting among the staff at OSHA is that there will be no Assistant Secretary during during Trump’s first (and hopefully only) term. They doubt that Mugno, who has retired from FedEx and moved down to Florida, really wants the job any more — even if the Senate gets its act together.

(Scott: Call me. We need a sign of life!)


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Posted In: Allied Approaches