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House approves bill authorizing 2020 pay raise, blocks OPM-GSA plans

The House of Representatives passed a funding bill June 26 that includes an amendment blocking a threatened furlough of 150 employees at the Office of Personnel Management.

The amendment from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) passed on a voice vote. The overall Financial Services and General Government Appropriation passed by a vote of 224-196.

The overall bill contains a 3.1% pay raise for federal civilian employees and several provisions that prevent the Trump administration from executing a plan to fold much of OPM's payroll, benefits administration and other back-office functions into the General Services Administration while establishing a small group at the Office of Management and Budget to develop federal human resources policy.

The appropriations bill funds OPM at $339 million -- an increase of $43.2 million over the previous funding level.

The White House is pushing ahead with its reorganization plans, despite a lack of enthusiasm from Congress, because of a coming $70 million funding gap incurred because of the shift of the National Background Investigations Bureau to the Department of Defense. The full force of that budget crunch won't be felt immediately. According to budget documents the Trump administration shared with Congress and first published in the Washington Post, DOD will need to pay for $42 million in OPM services, leaving a $23 million funding gap.

The White House dangled the possibility of laying off 150 OPM employees to close this gap in that same budget document. If the administration takes that route, it must provide 60 days advance notice – which would have to come in the first week of July to be effective for the start of fiscal year 2020.

"The Trump Administration is threatening Congress with a furlough of 150 employees at the Office of Personnel Management unless we, the Congress, acquiesce to the administration's so-called plan to abolish OPM altogether and give the Trump White House control of governmentwide federal employee policies," Connolly said in floor debate on his amendment.

"This threat was made in spite of proposed appropriation levels above what would be needed to fill any anticipated budget gap," Connolly noted in his remarks on the House floor.

Connolly also argued that the move to centralize HR policy inside OMB would lead to an unwanted politicization of the federal workforce.

"We have watched as this administration has attempted to curtail the independence of the civil service itself and reverse more than a century of protected reforms implemented by professionals in the civil service to insulate them from political influence," Connolly said.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, argued that the funding levels provided for OPM in the funding package that ended the partial government shutdown in March have backed the agency into a corner.

"But we should give them credit. They're looking to for an alternative and that is to reorganize, to change, to modernize, to update," Graves said.

Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), speaking in support of the amendment, said that he perceived "a hostility, frankly, toward the federal workforce in this administration." He added: "Whether you think government ought to be small or large, you ought to agree on the fact that whatever size it is, we ought to have an effective human resources agency."

Reader comments

Mon, Jul 8, 2019

All elected minions should be entirely voted out. Make America great again by imposing term limits; salary and benefit reductions of 85%; no more special perks and benefits; and of course they have to put in a 40 hour time clocked work week.

Sat, Jul 6, 2019

Hey AOC and the other minions and idiots called senators and congress representatives. Do not insult the tax payers and federal employees requesting that you all need a $4500 increase in salary. You are all paid way too much in salaries and benefits and have done absolutely nothing in return. So keep your idiot mouths shut and do some much needed work. By the way 3.1% is a joke especially since federal employees and federal retirees have lost more than 20% by pay freezes and bogus cost of living increases. Do you job, vote in term limits and take a salary cut of 80% for all congress and senate along with reductions in benefits. You then will make America great again. Mitch, Nancy, Schumer Elizabeth and the rest of you clowns this applies to you folks.

Fri, Jul 5, 2019

Under the Obama administration there were a number of years with out pay raises. It went to the crooked banks and insurance companies to pay for his next election. Cronies who take care of each other at the expense of hard working employees. The unions sat back and did nothing as usual.

Sat, Jun 29, 2019

Do not expect anything and you will not be disappointed. The house like the rest of the elected political minions are functionally clueless when it comes to salary adjustments for federal employees. The minion AOC is already trying to get a large salary increase for her and the other underperforming bickering elected idiots. This more than ever warrants a serious term limit and salary reductions for elected morons pretending to run this nation.

Fri, Jun 28, 2019

Some members in the House of Representatives have actually done some work instead of bickering, taking phony fact finding missions and padding their pay checks and benefits. Now 3.1% is a start but just that, look how much was lost thanks to idiot policies of Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama and the one to make America Again. Now you have left out retirees, their costs go up every year also.

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