Senators introduce bill to stop EPA from garnishing Americansí wages
Bill says EPA must get a court order
by Enzi-Barrasso media release
September 15, 2014
U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyoming, joined Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb) and John Thune (R-S.D.) today (Sept. 15, 2014) in introducing a bill to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from garnishing Americansí wages without a court order.
Enzi and Barrasso sent a letter on July 10th along with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency to withdraw its direct final rule on administrative wage garnishment. On July 16th, the EPA formally withdrew its direct rule. The Johanns-Thune legislation will make sure the EPA cannot continue to pursue wage garnishment unless it receives a court order.
"This Administration has aggressively looked for every opportunity to expand its reach into our lives and pocketbooks," said Enzi. "Executive power should have limits and requiring a federal agency to get a court order before garnishing Americansí wages should be a no-brainer."
"The EPA can already fine individuals thousands of dollars for simply building a pond on their own landóas we learned in the case of Uinta County resident Andy Johnson," said Barrasso. "Now, in order to cover these excessive fines, the EPA is planning to go around the courts to force your employers to garnish your wages. This outrageous overreach must be stopped in its tracks. Our legislation will prevent the EPA from having this unprecedented authority that only hurts Americans who are trying to provide for their families."
In addition to Senators Johanns, Thune, Enzi and Barrasso, Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) are original cosponsors of the bill.
The Johanns-Thune legislation specifically states EPA must receive a court order before taking any wage garnishment actions established by the 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA). The 1996 law gave federal agencies the authority to garnish up to 15 percent of a workerís wages to pay debts owed to the federal government. Given the aggressive regulatory regime of this Administrationís EPA, particularly as it applies to rural America and agriculture, a court order is necessary to prevent overreach.