WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is using the federal government's vast array of contractors and subcontractors as a labor policy incubator. He is sidestepping Congress to set workplace rules on wages, pay disparities and hiring in a segment of the private sector that gets taxpayer money and falls under his control.

Obama plans this week to issue an order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay and will direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender.

The Senate this week is scheduled to take up gender pay equity legislation that would affect all employers, but the White House-backed bill doesn't have enough Republican support to overcome procedural obstacles.