Fedweek

Just days after dropping it, the House has restored a provision to provide additional paid leave for personal and family medical purposes for federal employees among many other workers to a key bill (HR-5376) reflecting many Biden administration policies.

The “reconciliation” bill, which will require votes only from Democrats to pass the Senate, has been the subject of negotiations within that party for months, with numerous earlier proposals eliminated or scaled back. After producing what was touted as a final version last week, House leaders this week made further changes, including restoring the paid leave language.

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That provision would create a national program of paid leave for most workers of up to the 12 weeks over 12 months for the purposes that the Family and Medical Leave Act provides unpaid leave. On average it would pay two-thirds of an employee’s current salary, with lower-income workers receiving as much as 85 percent of income replacement.

For most federal employees, that effectively would apply only to personal and family purposes , since they already are eligible to receive parental leave at full salary (that does not apply to Postal Service employees; they would stand to benefit from the pending provision for all forms of leave covered by the FMLA). A separate bill (HR-564) earlier cleared a House committee to allow all federal employees to take paid leave at full salary for all FMLA-covered purposes, but that has been set aside at least for now.

The reconciliation bill meanwhile keeps earlier provisions to boost the IRS budget for purposes such as taxpayer services, enforcement, operations and IT modernization. That in turn likely would restore some of the thousands of jobs lost at that agency due to budget restrictions over the last decade.

Also still included are additional funds for the GSA and Postal Service to replace gas-fueled vehicles with electric-powered ones; for oversight activities by the IGs at those two agencies as well as by the GAO and OMB; and for government-wide energy efficiency and other environmental initiatives.

The House could vote on the bill soon, although final passage there and in the Senate still is not assured.

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