When Speaker McCarthy and his MAGA House Majority passed the “Default on America Act” last month, they made one thing clear: working Americans are not their priority. Between new tax loopholes for massive corporations and wealthy families, and defunding critical nutrition, veterans, and healthcare programs, it’s a rich man’s game and the MAGA House Majority has picked a team.
While they hold our economy hostage over their growing list of ransom demands, Assistant Labor Secretary Liz Watson has warned that their prescribed budget cuts would have a disastrous impact on the Department of Labor’s ability to defend and empower employees across the country.
“These drastic reductions in spending proposed by certain Congressional Republicans would be devastating—undermining our ability to protect our nation’s most vulnerable workers and hindering our efforts to address critical issues like exploitative child labor,” she explained in a letter to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
“These types of cuts would send an unmistakable message that the workers who were essential during the pandemic are expendable, diminishing the value of their work and failing to honor them by ensuring their wages, health, and safety are protected.”
America’s workforce hears that message loud and clear thanks to the chorus of labor unions, activists, and even the White House, who have joined forces in calling out the MAGA Majority’s reckless cuts.
Here are three things working Americans can expect if the MAGA House Majority’s Default on America Act becomes law.
1. Thousands of American children will endure exploitative labor practices.
Thanks to corporate greed, child labor violations have been on a steady rise since 2015. Just last year alone, the Department of Labor found at least 3,876 children were employed in violation of child labor laws.
Those employers include over a dozen meatpacking plants which hired a contractor named in a Department of Labor investigation into child labor violations – including Tyson Foods, Cargill Inc., and JBS USA. A report from Accountable.US revealed that the meatpackers named each had histories of more widespread labor abuses, price hiking, and soaring profits.
Now as Republicans pursue state-level efforts to roll back child labor regulations, children are now in a precarious position that an underfunded Labor Department would be ill-prepared to combat. With a 22% budget cut, thousands of children suffering abusive labor practices could be left behind to fend for themselves.
2. Nearly a million job seekers would be left without training and opportunities.
One of the major support systems helping job seekers is the Department’s own Employment and Training Administration, which aims to improve the employment prospects of millions of adults, youth, and dislocated workers.
The MAGA Majority’s proposed cuts would take training opportunities provided by the administration away from as many as 750,000 job seekers, and leave 100,000 fewer apprenticeship opportunities for the developing workforce.
In April, the U.S. economy added 253,000 jobs despite mounting economic pressure and the threat of a recession. The MAGA Majority’s 22% budget cuts could undermine that growth by depriving employers of a skilled workforce and cutting off employee pathways to good jobs.
3. Hundreds of thousands of employees could go without payment or any wage recovery resource.
Spending reductions would also hurt the Department’s ability to recover back wages for workers who rely on every dollar to pay rent, buy food, and pay for childcare.
As Assistant Secretary Watson reported in her letter, “last year, [The Wage And Hour Division] recovered more than $213 million in back wages for nearly 153,000 workers—an average of $1,400 per worker.” With a cut in funding, the Department would be forced to lower the number of compliance actions, investigations, and targeted inspections that result in wage recovery. Succinctly, underfunding the Department of Labor would mean asking thousands of workers never to collect payment for their hard work.
The MAGA Majority’s proposed cuts are a direct threat to the health and prosperity of working Americans. If they genuinely valued hard work and contributions to our economy, Speaker McCarthy and his members should do their job and pass a clean bill that allows the nation to pay its bills.