The House has passed its version of the annual DoD authorization bill (HR-6395) although the White House has threatened to veto the measure over a long list of differences, including some provisions directly affecting federal employees.
Notably, though, the statement of objections didn’t mention language in the bill to extend the paid parental leave authority that starts in October for most federal agencies to some agencies and occupations that were inadvertently excluded when that authority was enacted late last year as part of the fiscal 2020 DoD bill.
However, the administration did voice opposition to a provision to limit the department’s discretion to exclude certain categories of employees from bargaining rights on national security grounds (many intelligence-related positions already are excluded, for example) and one to align the GS and wage grade locality pay systems so that more employees in the latter would fall in higher-paid metro areas.
The statement said the former provision “would constrain the President’s authority to protect national security interests through a critical workforce management tool. This authority has allowed Presidents to respond quickly to emerging threats and national emergencies since 1978, and this prohibition is unwarranted.”
It said the latter “would unnecessarily increase the costs for federal agencies to conduct business in certain parts of the country by forcing agencies to pay their employees well above market wage levels.”
It further pointed to language to expand to employees of other agencies a policy making State Department employees who are injured while stationed abroad eligible for medical treatment provided by the DoD, saying it “would create ambiguity in the scope of coverage provided and uncertainty regarding the coordination of the expanded benefit and the benefits provided under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.”