The U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee provides critical oversight over bureaucratic agencies like the Department of Labor. With the recent finalization of the agency’s Independent Contractor Rule, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections conducted a February 14th hearing entitled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Wage and Hour Division.” Wage and Labor Administrator Jessica Looman sat before the committee to discuss how this rule and the department’s policies are impacting America.

Subcommittee Chair Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), opened the hearing and honed in on the Independent Contractor Rule that was crafted by Looman and Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su:

“The rules and regulations passed down over the past year by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will be extremely harmful to American workers, job creators, and small businesses.”

“The California-inspired independent contractor rule will deprive freelancers across the country of their livelihoods. In California, we saw journalists, writers, electricians, and countless workers in over 600 professions lose their careers because of AB 5, which President Biden has cited as his model. The law was so damaging that the state legislature exempted 109 categories of workers from it. Effective March 11, thanks to your and Ms. Su’s new rule, millions of independent contractors across America could lose their livelihoods, and tens of millions more will be forced into working arrangements they do not desire.”

After Chairman Kiley made it plain that he intended to oppose this rule under the Congressional Review Act, Looman gave her opening remarks. In her opening statement, Looman chose to focus on the “successes” of the Wage and Hour Division, particularly in the areas of child labor and worker misclassification. Looman touted the millions of dollars saved or restored to workers through their efforts to stamp out misclassification. This begs the question: if the DOL is so successful in rooting out misclassification, why is a new Independent Contractor rule necessary to address misclassification?

Chair Kiley called upon the committee members to address Looman with their questions or comments. Administrator Loomis could not, or did not, choose to answer many of the questions asked such as Chair Kiley’s questions about different occupations (real estate brokers, truckers, journalists) who would be classified as an independent contractor under the new rule. Looman not only appeared to be unfamiliar with the language within the 339 pages of the rule but also was unaware (or pretended to be) that the rule is written in such a way that classifying any profession as anything other than an employee is next to impossible.

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) asked Looman if she had ever run a business, a question that Looman also could not answer directly. Looman first giggled, then hemmed, and attempted to filibuster in order to run down the clock. After Rep. McClain confronted her about this, Looman finally answered that she hadn’t ever run a business. It is interesting that Julie Su was asked the same question at her confirmation hearing, exhibited the same behavior, and evoked her parent’s business, instead of simply answering that she also had never run her own business.

This is disconcerting because women own over 12 million businesses and employ over 10.1 million workers. The Independent Contractor rule will directly impact these contributors to the economy. As independent writer and photographer Karen Anderson stated, “What do the bureaucrats who make laws that put independent professionals out of business all have in common? They’ve never owned or run a business in their entire lives.”