Farenthold bill offers way to stop sequestration-related furloughs

Thursday - 3/7/2013, 11:22am EST

Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) is making a late effort to stop the furloughs of federal employees under sequestration.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, the Postal Service and the Census introduced the Protecting America's Civilian Employees (PACE) Act on March 5. It would require the Office of Management and Budget to submit a plan to Congress on how they would cut spending without harming the federal workforce.

"Our federal workforce needs to be operating at 100 percent," Farenthold said in a release. "They should not be punished because the President, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats failed to do their jobs and replace the sequester."

The bill, H.R. 950, requires OMB to develop a strategy detailing how funds could be transferred between accounts in fiscal 2013 to avoid furloughs or reductions in force and not increase the deficit. OMB would have 30 days to submit the report to Congress after the bill becomes law. The legislation was referred to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"The bottom line is the government does not spend money wisely," he said. "We should be able to achieve the needed savings and keep our dedicated federal workforce going strong, without devastating furloughs and that's what my bill intends to do."

There's a growing number of agencies who are preparing or have sent furlough notices to employees to help deal with the across-the-board spending cuts.

Farenthold's attempt to stop furloughs and throw his support behind federal workers comes despite his support for several pieces of legislation that many consider anti-fed. For example, Farenthold is one of 48 co-sponsors of the bill sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) to stop the federal employee pay raise of 0.5 percent in 2013. The House passed the bill Feb. 15 by a vote of 261-154, and it was sent to the Senate for consideration.

He also co-sponsored H.R. 436, which would "require or prohibit a bidder, offeror, contractor, or subcontractor from entering into, or adhering to, agreements with a labor organization, with respect to that construction project or another related construction project; or otherwise discriminate against or give preference to such a party because it did or did not become a signatory or otherwise adhere to such an agreement."

This bill is a reaction to the Obama administration's 2009 Executive Order requiring the use of project labor agreements for large construction contracts.

Farenthold also co-sponsored H.R. 367 to remove the power of agencies to approve major regulations and require Congress to pass a joint resolution.

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