The separate House and Senate versions of the annual DoD authorization bill take differing positions on workplace issues not only for civilian employees of that department but also government-wide.
The DoD authorization is considered one of the annual “must-pass” bills in Congress and government-wide provisions commonly are attached to it for that reason. The House Armed Services Committee plans to approve a bill (HR-6395) this week with a floor vote in the upcoming weeks, while the full Senate could vote on its bill (S-4049) as soon as this week.
In addition to broadening the upcoming paid parental leave authority to include categories of employees currently left out the draft House bill would limit the department’s discretion to exclude certain categories from bargaining rights—a discretion the White House moved earlier this year to expand. It also would align the GS and wage grade locality pay systems so that more employees in the latter would fall in higher-paid metro areas; although the two systems are separate, for many years wage grade employees have received annual raises matching what is paid to GS employees in an area.
The Senate committee-passed bill contains none of those provisions although it would allow for higher pay in certain acquisition and technology positions; create a pilot project for higher pay in certain high-level positions; expand use of “direct hire” authority for certain occupations and locations; and create a pilot program of direct hire authority for new military retirees into positions where special considerations such as “unique job requirements” apply. It also would extend several long-running special pay authorities for federal employees working overseas in areas of military operations.
The summary of the draft House bill makes no mention of such provisions. Typically, numerous amendments are offered to the DoD bill during House and Senate floor voting.