A US Senate panel advanced a bipartisan bill aimed at limiting the use of workplace nondisclosure agreements after the committee delayed its consideration several times.
The legislation, known as the SPEAK Out Act (
The legislation specifically targets those agreements signed before a dispute arises. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill by a voice vote, after the House Judiciary Committee advanced a companion bill in July.
Since its introduction, the bill has had bipartisan, bicameral support, a rare feat for pro-worker legislation. During the committee markup, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and John Cornyn (Texas) expressed support for the bill, joining a handful of Democrats in doing so.
The bill’s path hasn’t been friction-free, however.
The Senate panel twice delayed its consideration of the legislation, and the bill has faced pushback from outside groups. Conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation is opposing the bill on constitutional grounds, and calling it “duplicative.”
“There are serious questions about the congressional authority to even pass a bill like the Speak Out Act, because Congress has only the powers explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, and no more,” Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said in an email.
“Not only have state laws that mirror this bill already been passed in California, New York, and Pennsylvania, but employees and potential employees are already protected by certain provisions of federal law regarding employment that are specifically germane to this legislation,” she said.