Democratic lawmakers have asked for a delay in the Employee Benefits Security Administration's upcoming reorganization.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, on Sunday wrote to Preston Rutledge, the assistant secretary of labor for the EBSA, requesting the delay and for an explanation of the rationale behind the proposed reorganization.
In a late August email, Mr. Rutledge told the staff that the agency will soon have three deputy assistant secretaries who report directly to him instead of the two in place currently. Additionally, oversight responsibilities will be allocated differently among the deputy assistant secretaries.
Traditionally, the two EBSA assistant secretaries were split between a political appointee and a member of the career staff, an Aug. 30 brief from Groom Law Group said.
The new position — deputy assistant secretary for regional offices — will be filled by a career staffer, a Labor Department spokesman said in an email earlier this month.
The reorganization is set to go into effect Oct. 1.
"The proposed reorganization appears to be a meaningful structural change from the status quo, shifting authorities to EBSA's politically appointed deputy and creating a new director position to oversee regional offices," Ms. Murray and Mr. Scott wrote in their letter. "We have questions about the need and basis for this proposed reorganization and whether EBSA's vital mission will be impaired. As such, we write to respectfully recommend that you delay the proposed reorganization until Congress and interested stakeholders fully understand the rationale and ramifications of this proposed reorganization for the millions of workers, retirees and families EBSA serves."
The members sent a list of 11 questions for Mr. Rutledge to answer, including, "What problem is this proposed reorganization designed to solve?" and "What specifically prompted this proposed reorganization and when did formal or informal planning for the proposed reorganization begin?"
The lawmakers requested a response by Sept. 30.
A Labor Department spokesman said in an email that the letter has been received and will be reviewed.