by Michael Fox
The newly implemented white collar exemption regulations to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which have been the subject of much rhetoric, or one might even say, much vitriol, have survived yet another challenge. A conference committee vote just concluded on S. 1637, an export tax bill, narrowly defeated Senator Tom Harkin's amendment designed to revoke the more "controversial" provisions. Although there are arguments over the exact impact, it would have derailed the bulk of the regulations and certainly created a procedural nightmare. Not that the regulations are totally out of the woods. The next major challenge is likely to come as part of the FY2005 Omnibus Appropriations bill which will probably not be considered until a lame duck session following the November 2 elections.
One additional piece of good news for the supporters of the regulations or those who have to interpret them, the Gregg Amendment which was attached to the Senate-passed version in an ill fated attempt to gain more Democratic votes or at least lessen the controversy by freezing certain job classifications under the old Part 541 Regulations, was not raised for a vote in Conference. Although well intended, it would have added yet another layer of complexity.