U.S. Senators Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) today introduced legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from garnishing Americans’ wages without a court order.
Johanns said, “Federal overreach has been a theme of this Administration and keeping agencies accountable is a constant, ongoing process. With the avalanche of new regulations being issued, I find it troubling EPA is now seeking authority to garnish wages without a court order. The agency should have no problem getting a judge’s blessing to collect a fine if there is a bona fide reason to issue that fine. It’s just common sense.”
Thune said, “The recent attempt by the EPA to confiscate the wages of Americans without a court order is especially concerning in light of the ambiguous regulations it’s currently proposing, such as the ‘Waters of the U.S.,’ which would expose farmers and ranchers to excessive fines over the management of ditches, stock ponds, and streams. The EPA’s direct final rule on wage garnishment rightfully received opposition from the American public and Congress, and our bill will provide an important long-term check on the EPA’s aggressive agenda.”
Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) are original cosponsors of the Johanns-Thune 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 worker’s wages to pay debts owed to the federal government. Given the aggressive regulatory regime of this administration’s EPA, particularly as it applies to rural America and agriculture, a court order is necessary to prevent overreach.