Congress proposes to merge the departments of Commerce and Labor

June 27th, 2011

As the White House is putting its finishing touches on its initial proposal to reorganize parts of the government, seven Senators introduced a bill Thursday to merge the departments of Commerce and Labor into the Department of Commerce and the Workforce (DOCW). Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and six co-sponsors, want to build off the Government Accountability Office’s March report on duplication across government and President Obama’s deficit commission recommendations to consolidate parts of the government.

“This common-sense approach reduces duplication by combining offices with similar functions within these two agencies and would streamline our approach to comprehensive economic policy,” Burr said in a release. Joining Burr in sponsoring the bill are Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Dan Coats (R-Ind.). The Office of Management and Budget is expected to release its plans by June 9 for how it will consolidate efforts around trade, exports and competitiveness.

The deficit commission recommended a broader reorganization by moving the Small Business Administration to Commerce, and transferring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from Commerce to the Department of the Interior. Burr said the new merged DOCW would promote economic growth and workforce protections, and preserve the independent functions of both agencies and would not make changes to specific policy.

He added the bill also would combine the support and administrative offices of the two agencies, thus saving more money by consolidating 35 offices into 12 and eliminate or reduce the funding of seven programs or initiatives.

There is no House companion bill.


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