Congress Finally Approves Federal Spending Levels for FY12
By the end of 2011, Washington had become a forum of debate like I have never seen before. In 2011, we saw a total of seven continuing resolutions to keep the govern- ment from shutting down and considerable debate on whether to raise the federal debt ceiling, almost causing the federal government to go into default. We still await a Supreme Court review of the health care law. 2012, a presidential election year, begins with a divided Congress and with occupational health and safety issues in a con- tinuous holding pattern. However, with little time to spare—the most recent con- tinuing resolution was to expire on Dec. 16—Congress did finally reach a consensus on federal spending for the 2012 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. With both the House and the Senate agreeing on spending totals, the presi- dent signed off on the measure to avoid any further con- troversy until the 2013 budget debate begins. As expected, the final bill turned out to be an omnibus bill that rolled all of the remaining appropriations into a single bill thousands of pages long. So how did occupa- tional health and safety fare in the end?
OSHA was provided a total of $565,857,000 in the final budget, an increase of a little more than $7 million from what OSHA was appropriated in 2011. The increased spending was limited to three separate areas: • Whistleblower enforcement received an increase of $1.097 million. • Federal compliance assistance received an increase of $3.117 million. • State consultation grants received an increase of $3.312 million. • A small decrease of $288,000 in safety and health standards was also in the final budget. But Congress didn’t stop there when looking at the OSHA budget. An addendum to the OSHA budget states, “None of the funds made available may be used to continue the development of or to promulgate, administer, enforce, or otherwise implement the Occupational Injury and Ill- ness Recording and Reporting Requirements—Muscu- loskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column being developed by OSHA.” In other words, the effort to add the MSD col- umn back on the OSHA 300 form is dead for now.
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