Fedweek

Washington DC, June 10 2019: From left, House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-NY., Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Ok., prepare a spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, as they go before the House Rules Committee.

The House is continuing to advance legislation that would deny funding for reorganizations of OPM and other agencies that the Trump administration wants to carry out, setting up likely showdowns over bills needed to continue funding agencies in the fiscal year that starts in October.

The full House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday (June 11) passed the general government spending bill, which would block the administration’s plan to shift OPM’s retirement, insurance and personnel services branches to the GSA – either as a direct transfer or through a contract – and to move federal personnel policy decisions into a new office in OMB. It also takes two other positions counter to the administration by providing for a 3.1 percent average raise in January rather than the freeze the White House proposed and by barring agencies from imposing changes to practices previously covered by labor-management contracts unless a new contract or arbitration award replaces them.

The full committee has now passed all 12 of the regular annual appropriations bills, including the measure covering the Agriculture Department and related agencies, which would block the department’s plan to move out of the national capital area the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture; employees of both have recently voted to form bargaining units under the AFGE union. That bill also would block the administration’s recently announced plan to transfer two dozen USDA Job Corps Conservation Centers to the Labor Department–which in turn had announced plans to merge them with other job training programs at a loss of more than 1,000 federal jobs although more recently retreated from that plan. Also, the bill on Interior and related agencies denies the requested funds to create a standard regional office structure and shift some jobs to those offices from headquarters.

The full House plans to vote this week on a package of spending bills covering Labor-HHS-Education, Defense, State, Energy and Congress itself; packaging the bills is designed to ease their passage. Other bills could be combined in a later grouping, although more controversial ones–including the one for DHS, which affects immigration policies–could be left separate so they don’t hamper chances for enactment of others.