The House has passed a wide-ranging bill on pandemic relief and economic stimulus (HR-1319) that would create a special fund for providing paid leave to federal employees who have used up their sick leave.
Agencies could draw on the $570 million fund to provide up to 600 hours of paid leave to employees who continue to have needs related to personal or family health situations, school closings or unavailability of regular day care services. The bill also would put in law an existing Labor Department policy of presuming that Coronavirus infections of federal employees in certain front-line positions are work-related for purposes of FECA benefits.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where prospects for passage are less clear, given disputes over certain other provisions including raising the federal minimum wage. There is pressure to reach a resolution within the next two weeks, however, ahead of the expiration of certain unemployment benefits the bill would extend.
The House has now turned to HR-1, a high-priority measure for Democratic leaders there which contains a number of provisions related to voter registration, campaign financing and ethics policies for political appointees. The bill also would reauthorize the Office of Government Ethics, strengthen its independence and investigative powers and set new standards for ethics training.