Last week we reported that the House passed their version of the 40-hours bill and that the Senate would be considering their own legislation in the coming weeks. This week we are excited to report that the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has set a hearing date for their bill, S. 30, for Thursday, January 22.
The challenge for the Senate will be to come up with enough supporters to cross the 60-vote threshold to get the bill passed out of the chamber and to the president’s desk. Last week we mentioned that possible crossover votes included Michael Bennet (CO), Bob Casey (PA), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jon Tester (MT), and Mark Warner (VA), and independent Angus King (ME) who caucuses with the Democrats. This week we learned that picking off any of these senators will be a difficult task, as Casey, Heitkamp, King, Tester, and Warner all expressed reservations with changing the requirement to 40 hours. Without any of these senators, the unofficial vote-count stands at 56 ayes, assuming that all 54 Republicans fall in line to support, as the House did for their bill last week. The moderate Democrats with hesitation to joining will have significant bargaining power with Republicans hoping to advance the bill as both parties work to broker a solution.
Even with reaching 60 votes, the real challenge will be getting 67 votes in the Senate and 290 votes in the House for the two-third veto-override, since the White House has already promised to veto the legislation as-is. The House will need to add nearly 40 more Democrats to the 12 who already crossed over to achieve this, and the Senate will need all eight of the chamber’s moderate Democrats, plus another five Democrats who haven’t previously expressed interest in making substantive changes to the PPACA.
NAHU supports the 40-hours bill since so many of our members deal every day with employers who are cutting their employee’s hours, reducing or dropping coverage, and struggling to make the 30-hour requirement and all of the related counting and reporting requirements work for their companies. You can help by telling Congress what this bill means for you and your clients. Take action today by sending an Operation Shout to your state’s senators!