Defense Spending Bill Passes House with Provisions for Federal Employees

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By on July 12, 2019 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments
Words 'National Defense Authorization Act' overlaying a map of the United States against a black background

The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500) today in a 220-197 vote along party lines.

The bill as passed contains some important provisions federal employees will want to know about. These provisions were added as amendments to the bill, and the list of them has grown to be so lengthy and has been changing so frequently that the House Armed Services Committee set up an amendment tracker to describe the list of amendments to the bill along with their respective statuses. As of the time of this writing, said amendment tracker is 45 pages long.

Paid Family Leave

Efforts have been going on in Congress for more than a decade to provide paid family leave to federal employees. The bill as passed contained an amendment which would give federal workers 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoptions of a child and/or to care for a sick family member.

Blocking OPM/GSA Merger

The bill as passed also contains an amendment offered by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) to block the Trump administration’s proposed restructuring of the Office of Personnel Management to move some of its functions into the General Services Administration.

Previous reports said that the merger between the agencies could potentially result in furloughs for some employees at OPM, however, the administration said this would be a last resort that it hoped to avoid through an agreement with Congress.

FEHB Coverage During a Shutdown

An amendment from Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) would ensure that federal employees may enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB) should they experience a qualifying life event during a partial government shutdown. It also prohibits the loss of life insurance coverage, dental, vision, and long-term care benefits for federal employees in the case of a lapse in federal appropriations.

Military Pay Raise

The bill that passed contains a 3.1% pay increase for the military for next year, the same raise that the House passed previously for federal employees in 2020.

Veto Threat

Before getting too excited about the bill, keep in mind that it will now have to go before the Senate and also be signed into law by President Trump if and when it passes the Senate.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill in its current form. A recent policy statement on the bill said that the president’s advisors would recommend that he veto it. The document did not address the provisions cited above that impact federal workers.

“The level of funding that would be authorized by the bill—a total of $733 billion for national defense—is $17 billion below the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget request and would not fully support critical national security priorities,” reads part of the policy statement.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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