The new Congress has in effect picked up where it left off in 2016, but with a busier agenda ahead for the federal workforce.
One bill passed quickly by the House, HR-27, involves a frequent target of recent years, the VA; it would require all reprimands and admonishments given to VA employees to remain in their file as long as they are employed by the department; under current policy, an admonishment and reprimand can only stay on an employee’s record for two and three years, respectively.
Also proposed was S-57, to require the VA to revoke bonuses paid to employees involved in manipulating patient care wait lists. Meanwhile, the House as an internal procedural matter reinstated the so-called Holman Rule, which dates to the late 1800s but has not been in effect for more than three decades. It allows House members to offer amendments to spending bills at highly specific levels, to include how many employees should be assigned to a program, to limit the pay–to as little as $1 annually–of individual employees, or to abolish an individual’s position with no appeal rights allowed.
Such changes would have to be approved through the legislative process, so it is uncertain how widely that would be used, but reinstating the rule was widely seen–and denounced by many employee organizations and congressional Democrats–as a message in and of itself.