Omnibus Spending Bill: Hidden Requirements Impacting Federal Employees

The 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill that passed is more than 4000 pages long. Embedded are numerous requirements federal agencies must follow. Here are a few of them.

2023 Omnibus Spending Bill: Includes Spending Money We Don’t Have for Projects We Don’t Need

The Omnibus Spending Bill (Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023) is a monster bill. It is a 4,000+ page amalgamation of a wide variety of topics, many of which could not get passed as individual bills in Congress. Some of these bills are inserted together in one large bill and passed into law as the government budget has to be passed for the federal government to continue to function. It was not read before it passed. No amendments were considered.

As one Congressman described the bill:

We’re spending money we don’t have. Go home and sell your projects, go home and talk about all the pork you’re bringing home. But you’re destroying the United States of America, absolutely destroying this body.

We had 18 Republicans, who joined with Democrats in the Senate, get on their fancy planes and go home, and we’re sitting here trying to do the work of the people, not spend money we don’t have, not drive up more inflation, not have 7,500 earmarks for $16 billion for pet leftist projects across this country.

Obviously, there are problems with the bill, starting with the fact that no one could read the entire bill before it was voted on and passed into law.

While there are more than 4,000 pages in this bill and with little or no publicity surrounding many of the requirements in the massive legislation combined into one package, there are a number of provisions that will impact all federal agencies.

Here are a few of these provisions with legal requirements imposed on federal agencies.

Omnibus Spending Bill Provisions Impacting Federal Employees

Not many people will ever read the entire bill. Every federal agency will have a few people read the portions of the law portions related to that agency. In this case, feeling sorry for the lawyers assigned to this task may be justified.

There are some provisions that apply to all agencies. Some of the provisions are carried over from earlier legislation. Some provisions were probably snuck into the bill by one special interest or another and will be revealed in time.

Here are a few provisions that may have an impact on the federal government’s workforce that caught the attention of one determined reader over the Christmas holiday.

Drug Testing Program

Section 701 requires that no appropriations be spent by an agency that does not have a drug prevention and testing program in place.

Citizenship Requirement

Section 704 requires that federal employees must meet specified tests. They have to be a citizen of the United States, a legal alien, or are permitted entry to the country based on a request for asylum and have filed a declaration of intention to become a lawful permanent resident and then a citizen when eligible or is a person who owes allegiance to the United States.

Prohibited Use of Funds

Section 709 prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement any regulation that has been disapproved by a joint resolution of Congress.

Preventing Contact or Communication with Congress Prohibited

Under Section 713: No appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be available for the payment of the salary of any officer or employee of the Federal Government, who:

prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent, any other officer or employee of the Federal Government from having any direct oral or written communication or contact with any Member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress in connection with any matter pertaining to the employment of such other officer or employee or pertaining to the department or agency of such other officer or employee in any way.

Prohibiting Release of Home Addresses to Unions

Section 716 prohibits using funds to provide employees’ home addresses to any labor organization unless authorized by that employee or by a court.

Prohibition for Providing Mailing Lists

Section 717 prohibits using federal money for providing non-public information such as mailing, telephone, or electronic mailing lists to any person or any organization outside of the Federal Government unless authorized by that employee or by a court.

Authorizing Breast Feeding on Government Property

Section 722: A woman may breastfeed her child on government premises if both she and the child are authorized to be present.

Prohibiting Monitoring of Internet Use

Section 725: Appropriated funds cannot be used to collect, review, or create any aggregation of data, derived from any means, that includes any personally identifiable information relating to an individual’s access to or use of any Federal Government Internet site of the agency; or

(2) to enter into any agreement with a third party (including another government agency) to collect, review, or obtain any aggregation of data, derived from any means, that includes any personally identifiable information relating to an individual’s access to or use of any nongovernmental Internet site.

There are exceptions to this list including any action taken for law enforcement, regulatory, or supervisory purposes, in accordance with applicable law.

Requirements for Drug Coverage Contracts

Section 726 requires that prescription drug coverage contacts must include contraceptive medications except where the carrier objects on religious grounds. It does not require coverage of abortion or abortion-related medications.

Prohibition of Vanity Portrait Paintings

Section 736 states that government funds may be used to pay for the painting of a portrait of an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress (including a Delegate or a Resident Commissioner to Congress), the head of an executive branch agency or the head of an office of the legislative branch.

Prohibiting Large Conference Expenditures

Section 738 states that agencies are required to submit a quarterly report to their Inspector General on any agency-sponsored conference costing more than $100,000 or on any outside conference attended by agency employees that cost the agency more than $20,000.

Prohibition on Contracting Out Studies

Section 741 prohibits using government funds to begin or announce a study or public-private competition regarding the conversion to contractor performance of any function performed by Federal employees pursuant to Office of Management and Budget Circular A–76 or any other administrative regulation, directive, or policy.

Information Technology Requirements for Accessibility

Section 752 requires that within 100 days of the enactment of the spending bill, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is required to update IT requirements for individuals with disabilities including those with visual, auditory, tactile, and cognitive disabilities, or members of any disability organization.

How Does the Federal Budgeting Process Work?

There are basic steps taken each year for the federal budget:

• President’s budget request.
• Budget resolution.
• Appropriations bills.
• Authorization bills.
• Revenue measures.
• Budget reconciliation.
• Debt limit legislation and raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

What is the Debt Limit?

The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47