The continued standoff between the White House and congressional Democrats over a potential virus relief bill—which resulted in President Trump taking a number of executive actions last weekend—has left a series of potential provisions important to federal employees on the shelf.
A chance still remains of an agreement that would translate into a more sweeping law, but little apparent progress has been made to resolve the deep differences over policies and spending levels that have characterized the negotiations over the last month. Since Trump took his actions—which are being questioned on grounds that they exceed a president’s authority—the situation has been in a kind of limbo, with a broader agreement not ruled out but with no firm steps being taken toward one.
Trump’s actions focused mainly on unemployment benefits, not an issue for federal employees due to the pandemic although potentially affecting family members, as well as protections from evictions. One provision of potential direct impact on federal employees encouraged employers to allow workers making less than $2,000 a week to defer until year’s end Social Security taxes due starting September 1. The government has not yet said whether it will apply that policy to its own employees.
His series of three memos and one executive order did not address a range of other issues that the House had advocated for a relief bill, including more hazardous duty pay and other benefits for frontline employees and requirements that teleworking employees be kept in that status until certain standards are met.
Also not addressed was the funding shortfall at U.S. Customs and Immigration Services which arose after the House had passed its bill in May. A proposal from Senate Republicans would have provided the $1.2 billion the agency has requested to head off furloughs of some 13,400 employees now set for the end of the month.