Fedweek

The focus is now shifting from the House to the Senate on issues including a federal raise in January, the potential breakup of OPM and other decisions tied into the budget process.

The House last week passed the general government appropriations bill (HR-3351) that would among other thing provide an average 3.1 percent raise and to bar OPM from spending money to shift operations into the GSA or to achieve much the same result by subcontracting them to GSA.

During House voting, an amendment was accepted to further prevent OPM from furloughing or laying off employees by citing the loss of revenue from one part of the breakup already in progress: moving background investigations—for which requesting agencies pay a fee—to the Defense Department. OPM recently had raised the prospect of layoffs and furloughs in the fall of about 150 employees but more recently stepped back from that threat. The bill adds money to help make up for that shortfall, although the amount would not cover all of it.

The administration’s statement on the bill opposed both the raise and the restrictions on OPM, although it didn’t specifically threaten a veto over those issues.

With passage of that measure, the House has now approved 10 of the regular 12 annual spending bills—four were passed as one package and another five were passed as another—leaving only those covering DHS and Congress and itself. The White House however has threatened to veto all 10. Those bills also would either restrict or block plans to reorganize at other agencies including Interior, which wants to consolidate regional offices, and Agriculture, which intends to move two subagencies out of the Washington area to the Kansas City area effective October 1.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to start moving its own versions in the weeks ahead before taking a long recess through Labor Day. With current spending authority ending September 30, it’s already expected that temporary extensions would be needed for most if not all agencies to prevent another partial government shutdown.