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King, Vilsack spar over child labor rules

A hearing on the Labor Department proposal for stricter rules on the employment of youths under 16 today resulted in testy comments from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose wife, Christie, is running against King for a House seat in Iowa.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa


Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa
After Nancy Leppink, the deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department, told the House Small Business Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee that the Agriculture Department had been working with the Labor Department in the development of the rules, King said that he believed it would be accurate to say that Vilsack “is working in advocacy of these rules.”

Leppink replied that she could say only that the two departments were working together.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack
Vilsack said Wednesday that he was pleased Labor Secretary Hilda Solis had decided pull back a portion of the rule that restricted child labor to a farm “wholly owned” by a parent and allow work on farms of which the parent is a part owner.

Vilsack was not present at the hearing, but sent an email to The Hagstrom Report today with a reaction to King’s comment.

“Throughout this process, I have worked to ensure that the voices of America’s farmers and ranchers have been heard loud and clear. I applaud Secretary Solis and the Department of Labor for their decision to re-propose the rule to ensure kids across the nation have the opportunity to learn the value and reward of good old-fashioned farm work, while still providing protection to children from the most dangerous aspects of farming.”

Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., participated in the hearing and pledged to use his power on the appropriations committee to block the proposed regulations. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who is trying to defend his Senate seat against Rehberg, also called on the Labor Department to abandon the rule.