House Gavel Switch: Foxx to Target Overtime, Fiduciary Rule
By Erik Wasson, Bloomberg News
The North Carolina congresswoman in line to become the chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee doesn’t believe the federal government should have a role in education.
Republican Virginia Foxx said she’s eager to work with a President Donald Trump to roll back numerous Obama administration labor regulations, while tying the hands of future regulators from ever again changing overtime pay rules without congressional consent. If Hillary Clinton wins, Foxx said she would work to block the Democrat’s plan to provide free college education.
As for Foxx’s dream of abolishing the Department of Education, the North Carolina lawmaker said she’s willing to work with Democrats in Congress to improve it since lawmakers probably won’t kill it. “I am a realist,” she said in an interview. “I do not believe the federal government has a role in education but I cannot change that unilaterally. It is a fait accompli.”
“My major concern in everything I do is to bring accountability to the federal government for spending hardworking taxpayer dollars,” she said.
Foxx — one of the few senior Republican women in line for a full-committee gavel — is the odds-on favorite to succeed retiring Minnesotan John Kline.
The House Republican Steering Committee will make a recommendation on the gavel in late November or early December.
Foxx, who currently chairs the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee, argues that her background as a former community college president with a doctorate in education, along with her long service toiling on behalf of leadership on the Rules Committee make her the most qualified to succeed Kline.
On the full committee, she’s second in seniority only to Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who has publicly pledged to support her. Wilson is in the top ranks of the House Armed Services Committee and could make a play for that chairmanship one day.
115th Congress Agenda
“If we have President Trump, then I believe our focus will be on the labor side, on the onerous rules and regulations,” Foxx said. She said that legislation will be needed to clarify that the Labor Department overstepped its authority in moving forward with regulations, such as the fiduciary rule placing new requirements on investment advisers. In April, the Labor Department issued its final “fiduciary rule.” It requires retirement plan advisers to put their client’s best interest before their own profits.
Foxx also wants to overturn the Obama administration’s expansion of overtime eligibility to higher paid workers, as well as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that companies are responsible for labor violations by contractors.
“We’ve to write legislation to keep any administration from messing around with these things,” she said.
Foxx said she also wants to focus on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal student aid. The act has been extended repeatedly without a full reauthorization for a dozen years.
“We need more accountability in every aspect,” she said. “There is very little monitoring of who get Pell Grants.”
Foxx said that the way federal student loans are administered is contributing to rising tuition and fees.
Foxx says she stands with other Republicans to block Clinton’s plan to provide free college education. Clinton has proposed making all community college degrees free and that by 2021 students from families with income up to $125,000 would pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities.
“It’s hugely expensive for one thing and the American people cannot afford it,” Foxx said. “And there is not reason for it. There is nobody in this country who cannot get a good education that is affordable.”
She said Clinton’s plans like Obama’s amount to “redistribution of wealth” and “that doesn’t work for very long.”
Foxx pointed to herself as an illustration of how individual initiative — not government intervention — is the key ingredient to success.
“My family was extremely poor,” she said. “We had no electricity and no running water. We didn’t even have an outhouse.”
Foxx put herself through college, taking seven years to complete her undergraduate degree.
Congress can provide opportunities for others by reducing taxes and scaling back regulations to encourage the creation of jobs, she said.
“I knew education was important to change my lifestyle. I worked hard in school,” she said. “I know what an individual can do, if given opportunities. That is what I want to preserve in this country.”