House-passed NDAA expands paid leave benefit to excluded feds, bans TikTok

Title 38 employees working at the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Federal Aviation Administration were not included in the original bill that established the benefit.

The House voted to include several workforce provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 aimed at strengthening benefits such as paid parental leave for previously excluded federal workers.

A provision in the 2020 NDAA granted Title 5 federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. Title 38 employees, such as workers at the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Federal Aviation Administration were not included in the original law. The 2021 bill extends the benefit to the excluded employees. The provision is set to go into effect on Oct. 1 of this year.

The NDAA also requires that Defense Secretary Mark Esper submit a report by Oct. 31 to congressional defense committees outlining the conditions under which he would exercise an authority that President Trump granted to him in January that would allow him to suspend civilian DOD employees’ collective bargaining rights under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations statute when such rights were deemed "incompatible" with the department's national security mission.

The provision would prevent the Defense Department from exercising that authority until 30 days after submitting the report.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) sponsored an amendment to the 2021 NDAA banning the popular video-sharing app TikTok on government equipment. He called the platform a "serious national security threat" during the House floor debates July 20.

"The Chinese Communist Party is using TikTok to collect massive amounts of data from American citizens and our government that could be used in a cyberattack against our republic," Buck said. "The clock is ticking."

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, is best known for its short, catchy, meme-worthy videos and its popularity with teens. But national security concerns have mounted over the past year due to the company's Chinese ownership and potential links to that country's military and government infrastructure. India recently banned the app and Australian politicians are considering similar measures. TikTok has denied connections to the Chinese government.

In the U.S., military branches began banning use of the app on work devices in late 2019, following Defense Department-issued guidance. If adopted, the amendment would prohibit TikTok from being downloaded on any government-issued device.

The House passed the $731.6 billion defense authorization bill in a 295-125 vote on July 21.

The Trump administration issued a veto threat against the bill, in part because of provisions to rename military bases currently named after Confederate military leaders.

 

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