FEDweek

What’s Cooking in Congress

Empty vintage congress hall with seats and microphones.

As the old saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” With the Congress repeatedly being in and out of session, the Republican and Democratic conventions, and other distractions, the introduction of new bills has been sporadic. Perhaps because of that inattention, there are more bills that are favorable to federal employees and retirees than are harmful.

Let me start with the ones that would have a negative impact. First up is HR-4461, the Federal Employees Rights Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. Among other things, it would bar federal employee unions from automatically deducting dues from workers’ paychecks, alter the way they conduct elections, and prohibit them from using any dues that they do collect to conduct political activities.

Another is S-2051, The Improving Postal Operation, Service and Transparency Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del. This bill would require postal employees and retirees to enroll in Medicare if they want to continue their FEHB coverage. In addition, it would cut workers’ comp benefits for injured federal employees.

Turning from the dark side, let’s have a look at several bills that would have positive effects across the board.

HR-485, Wage Grade Employee Parity Act (Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.)

This bill would give the president the authority to provide both Wage Grade and hourly employees a pay raise.

HR-532, Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.)

This bill would allow federal employees ro take six weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

HR-711, Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015 (Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Tx.)

This bill would reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) by providing a new formula that would decrease the penalty for those individuals who turn 62 in 2017 or later.

HR-973, Social Security Fairness Act of 2015 (Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.) and its companion bill, S-1651 (Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.)

These bills would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

HR-4585, The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act (Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va.) and its companion bill S-2699 (Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii).

This bill would provide for a 3.8 percent across the board pay raise for federal employees and a 1.5 percent increase in locality pay in 2017.

There are also a two bills affecting the U.S. Postal Service.

HR-784, Protect Overnight Delivery Act (Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.)

This bill would repeal the current service standard and require the Postal Service to reinstate those in place on 12/31/1011.

HR-1742, Rural Postal Act of 2015 (Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)

This bill would preserve the service standards in effect on July 2012. Preserve the requirement for six-day delivery, and put a two-year moratorium on plant closures.

In addition, there is a House Resolution (H.Res.54), which expresses the sense of Congress that the Postal Service should do what it can to restore the service standards in place on July 1, 2012. That resolution was authored by Rep. Dave. McKinley, R-W.Va.

If you are for or against any of the above, you need to let your members of Congress know.