Fedweek

The House Appropriations Committee plans to vote this week on a key spending bill that, as written by a subcommittee, effectively endorses President Trump’s recommendation for no federal employee raise in January—while not creating a $1 billion performance rewards and incentive payments fund that the administration proposed as a tradeoff for a pay freeze.

Pay and other workplace issues could be addressed in amendments to the general government appropriations bill during committee voting or later when the bill reaches a full House vote. Some Democrats are advocating a raise of 3 percent, although the practice of Congress in recent years has been to remain silent and let the White House’s proposal take effect by default. Creation of a performance rewards fund, in contrast, would require a specific action of Congress—as would another pay-related proposal, adding a year to within-grade raise waiting periods.

The general government bill further would continue several long-running provisions, including a general requirement that FEHB plans cover prescription contraceptives but that they generally not cover abortion; a ban on “lifestyle” training and other training not directly related to an employee’s job; limits on spending for conferences and required reporting on such spending; and a requirement that nondisclosure agreements make clear that they do not supersede whistleblower protection rights.

However, it does not include continuation of a long-running ban on agencies conducting “Circular A-76” comparisons of in-house costs versus contractor bids that can result in federal jobs being privatized. In past years, the House has ultimately agreed to Senate language to keep the ban in place.