Round two for telework bill

Tuesday - 7/13/2010, 6:30am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas

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By Max Cacas
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The second time may be the charm for HR 1722 -- the Telework Improvements Act.

The measure, designed to expand the use of telework by federal employees, was defeated on the House floor last May by opponents who claimed to be worried about the ballooning Federal deficit.

But the principal author of the bill, Rep. John Sarbanes, (D.-Md.), isn't giving up. He says the telework bill will be re-considered on the floor of the full House as early as tomorrow.

And he told Federal News Radio that the recently released 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey findings on telework bolsters the case for his bill.

"I was very encouraged by the report that at least ten percent of the workforce is teleworking at least one day a week," he said in a telephone interview. "Another 12 percent say they're teleworking less than a day, so that's a terrific starting point. Obviously, some agencies are stronger than others, but it does show people are taking advantage of this."

Two months ago, the measure was sent to the floor of the House under what is known as the suspension calendar, a path normally reserved for non-controversial pieces of legislation such as post office namings, and honorary resolutions. The bill failed to receive two-thirds of the votes from members casting ballots, in part because Republicans objected to what they thought was the cost of the measure.

Sarbanes says this time, the telework bill will be brought to the floor under the regular order, in which the measure first goes to the House Rules Committee, where possible amendments may be approved and attached to the bill. It then goes to the full House where it will be debated for at least an hour, before getting a final vote, which could take place as early as Wednesday evening.

"I'm very optimistic that we will get it passed, when we bring it to the House this time around," Sarbanes said.

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