Get it delivered right to your inbox!
With the elections now less than two weeks away, sights are being set on how, after returning to work, Congress will address important issues affecting federal employees and retirees that have been on hold for months. Since the third week of July, Congress has been in session only for the most of September, when its major focus was to generally extend agency spending authority at current levels through December 9. Other issues have been on the back burner, including: disciplinary procedures and appeal rights, especially at the VA; use of administrative leave; raising the buyout maximum at DoD; postal reform, including carving out a new health insurance program for postal employees and retirees; potential relief from a jump in Medicare Part B premiums facing some enrollees in the program including many CSRS retirees; scrutiny of the premium increases in the long-term care insurance program; and more. Congress is set to return November 14, but much of its attention that week will focus on the fallout of the elections, including pending leadership and organizational changes. Then it will recess for Thanksgiving week, followed by only three scheduled four-day workweeks before adjourning. The DoD authorization bill, which contains the buyout language and several special provisions for hard to fill positions there, is considered a “must-pass” as is some form of a budget extension, contained in one or more bills, carrying funding for the rest of fiscal 2017–or possibly only for several more months, putting it on the new Congress’s plate. In this situation other issues can be taken up quickly and passed individually, or attached to another bill on a fast-track to approval. No action is needed on one important issue, however: if Congress continues to take no action, a raise averaging 1.6 percent, with some variation by locality, will be paid by default effective the first pay period of January.