President Clinton barred large federal contracts Wednesday for companies that permanently replace striking workers. Republican lawmakers pledged to repeal his order.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole accused Clinton of trying “to end-run Congress.”
The largely symbolic executive order is the latest Clinton overture to organized labor, a key Democrat bloc in his re-election campaign. The action came despite sturdy GOP roadblocks against pro-union legislation in 1993.
After Clinton quietly signed the order in a private Oval Office ceremony, Republicans offered legislation to overturn it. “Congress makes the laws, not the administration,” Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., said.
The U.S. Chamber of Congress pledged to file a lawsuit challenging the order, accusing Clinton of overstepping his constitutional authority by writing labor laws.
“The president is clearly trying to build his coalition for the 1996 election and hand out some political favors,” said Stephen Bokat, chamber vice president and general counsel.
Sensitive to perceptions that Clinton is beholden to traditional Democratic constituencies, the White House excluded the media from a signing ceremony attended by AFL-CIO leaders.
But presidential spokesman Mike McCurry insisted that economics - not politics - triggered the order. Permanent replacement workers undermine the collective bargaining process and reduce worker productivity, he said.