U.S. House fends off Davis-Bacon attack

Amendment fails 233-189

THE U.S. HOUSE of Representatives defeated a budget bill amendment Feb. 19 that would have suspended the Davis-Bacon Act through the remainder of fiscal year 2011, which ends Sep. 30. Introduced by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the amendment lost by a 233-189 vote.

Davis-Bacon became law in 1931. Its goal is to ensure fairness to workers and to communities where government money is used for public projects, discouraging unfair competition by contractors paying substandard wages. It requires contractors working on federal construction contracts worth more than $2,000 to pay the prevailing wage and benefits for the area where the work is performed. The Secretary of Labor determines the wage and benefit standard.

Over the years, business groups and their political allies have repeatedly sought to repeal or undermine the law. The law is named for the two Republicans who sponsored it — Sen. James J. Davis of Pennsylvania and Rep. Robert L. Bacon of New York.

The amendment to suspend Davis-Bacon follows on the heels of another Republican amendment aimed at weakening union protections. A measure introduced by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia to defund the National Labor Relations Board was defeated 250-176 Feb. 17.