House works on bills impacting federal agencies, workforce

Tuesday - 10/29/2013, 2:41pm EDT

(Correction: H.Res. 388 was introduced Oct. 22, 2013, and has not been voted on.)

With the partial government shutdown behind them, members of the House are working on several bills that directly impact the federal workforce, including a resolution that supports ending the federal pay freeze, among other fed-friendly initiatives, and a bill that tackles the claims backlog at Veterans Affairs.

Below is a checklist of some of the bills making their way through Congress.

H.Res. 388, Resolution supporting federal employees

Status: H.Res. 388 was introduced Oct. 22, 2013.

Summary: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) introduced this piece of legislation that contains many provisions that directly impact federal employees.

The bill, a nonbinding resolution, expresses support for ending the federal pay freeze and preventing further cuts to feds' pensions or benefits. In addition, employee contributions to their retirement system would not be increased and the annuity multiplier used to figure out retirement benefits would not be decreased.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program would not be changed to a voucher program that would shift health insurance costs to employees and retirees.

The bill also shoots down using a Chained Consumer Price Index to determine federal annuities and setting arbitrary hiring limits.

"Congress should recognize that efforts to reduce the compensation and support provided to federal employees undermine our government's ability to meet its obligations to its citizens and hurt federal agencies' ability to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce," the legislation states.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasure Employees Union, last week called on members of the House of Representatives to support H.Res. 388.

"As was made clear during the recent shutdown, federal employees do important work on which many Americans rely," Kelley wrote. "The 16-day shutdown was, hopefully, the final act in the disparaging of federal employees. This resolution can restore some of the pride in service that federal employees hold."


H.R. 3345, The Stop Unworthy Spending (SUSPEND) Act of 2013

Status: The House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee passed the bill by voice vote on Oct. 29, 2013.

Summary: Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sponsored this bill which aims to overhaul the suspension and debarment system agencies use to identify those who, through criminal activity or incompetence, should no longer receive federal contracts. The committee adopted the bill with an amendment that added a 30-day time limit between referral and consideration of S&D cases. It also added a six-month time limit between the referral and resolution of the cases.


H.R. 2860, the OPM IG Act of 2013

Status: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed this legislation by voice vote on Oct. 29, 2013.

Summary: This legislation approves funding to enhance the services offered by the Office of Personnel Management's inspector general. This includes security clearance background checks, human resource management and other commercial-like services. Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) sponsored the legislation.

The IG has been asking for more money to root out waste, fraud and abuse across the agency's revolving fund and in other areas of OPM.

"As the revolving fund budget has grown, the funds available to the IG for audit of the fund have not kept pace," said Farenthold. "The OPM IG Act corrects that, providing resources for critical oversight at relatively low cost, using existing funds."


H.R. 2719, Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act

Status: The House Committee on Homeland Security passed the bill Oct. 29, 2013, by voice vote.

Summary: This legislation amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002, directing the TSA's administrator to develop a strategic multi-year technology acquisition plan and to look at TSA's acquisition of security-related technology to see if it is justified. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) Nine amendments to the bill were also passed.


H.R. 3107, Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act

Status: The House Committee on Homeland Security passed the bill Oct. 29, 2013, by voice vote.

Summary: Rep. Yvette Clark (D-N.Y.) sponsored this legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security's director to establish a set of cybersecurity occupation classifications and identify gaps in the agency's cybersecurity workforce.

Three amendments to the bill were also passed, including one that asks the Secretary of Homeland Security to report on the feasibility of establishing a Cybersecurity Fellowship Program that would offer a tuition payment plan to undergraduate and doctoral students who agree to work for the department for a certain length of time.


H.R. 2952, Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Act of 2013

Status: The House Committee on Homeland Security passed the bill Oct. 29, 2013, by voice vote.

Summary: Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) introduced this bill which would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002, to improve the laws relating to the advancement of security technologies for critical infrastructure protection.


H.R. 2189, To improve the processing of disability claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes

Status: The full House passed the bill on Oct. 28, 2013.

Summary: This legislation would establish a commission or task force to look at the Department of Veterans Affairs' backlog of disability claims.


H.R. 1405, To require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to include an appeals form in any notice of decision of a benefit sought

Status: The full House passed the bill on Oct. 28, 2013.

Summary: Introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), this bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs' secretary to include an appeals form with any notice of a decision for a benefit sought. It also caps VA employee awards and bonuses at a collective $345 million.