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On the In Depth show blog, you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.
Under federal "use it or lose it" rules, any unspent money employees set aside last year to pay for out-of-pocket health costs, such as prescriptions or co-pays, is forfeited at the end of the year. But a group of senators from states surrounding the Washington, D.C., area, wants to change that. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) along with Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) wrote to Katherine Archuleta, the head of the Office of Personnel Management, requesting the agency implement new regulations that would allow federal employees to roll over as much as $500 in unused funds from year to year.
Lawmakers, who face a self-imposed Friday deadline to come up with a fiscal 2014 budget plan, appear to be making progress toward a limited deal that would stave off another shutdown and give agencies the certainty of funding for the remainder of the year.But lawmakers with districts surrounding Washington, D.C. are preemptively speaking out against any proposal that, in their words, would "throw federal employees under the bus." Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), says that too often in the past federal employees' pay and benefits have "been used as pawns in budget negotiations."
The bill passed by Congress reopening the federal government after a two-week shutdown grants retroactive pay for furloughed federal workers and clears the way for all federal employees to receive a 1 percent pay raise in January. The continuing resolution, which funds government operations through Jan. 15, also grants agencies some spending flexibilities to avoid sequestration-related furloughs over the next few months.
This week on AFGE's "Inside Government" the program revisits several memorable interviews from 2012. Guests include Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Donna Christensen, D- Virgin Islands, and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D- Ohio, who participated in a congressional roundtable on health care reform. Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rebuild the Dream President and Co-founder Van Jones also appear.
The Senate approved a $631 billion annual defense policy Tuesday that would require the Defense Department to reduce its civilian workforce by 5 percent over the next five years and impose a strict cap on government-funded contractor salaries. With the White House threatening to veto the Senate version its current form, the bill now heads to a House-Senate conference committee where differences between the two chambers' bill will be hammered out.
The Senate moved forward with a plan to require the Defense Department to reduce its civilian workforce by 5 percent over the next five years, after a measure striking that provision was defeated in a vote Friday. Earlier this week, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which would lift a mandated 5 percent reduction to DoD's civilian and contractor workforces over five years. But in a 53-41 vote, Cardin's amendment was defeated.
The White House is threatening to veto the $631 billion annual Defense bill the Senate is debating this week unless Congress makes changes. The administration took issue with a number of provisions included in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill, which Senate leaders hope to vote on by the end of the week.
Senators attempt to head off provision in annual Defense bill that would require reductions among Pentagon civilians.
Former Virginia Governors George Allen and Tim Kaine offer contrasting ideas on issues affecting federal employees and contractors. In Maryland, former federal employee Dan Bongino is challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin for his seat. Bongino and Cardin hold similar views on a number of employee issues.