Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House OGR Committee takes up anti-fed bills

On March 1, the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee advanced by unanimous consent several of what it calls “good government” bills:

  • Administrative Leave Reform Act (H.R. 4359): Introduced by OGR Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in January, this measure would cap the use of administrative leave at 14 days per calendar year for cases related to misconduct or performance. It includes additional due-process protections.
  • Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act (H.R. 4361): Introduced in January by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), this bill would give federal agencies “sole and exclusive authority” to put Internet usage restrictions in place with regard to federal employees without first providing the right to bargain over Internet use. If enacted, this legislation would restrict federal employees’ Internet usage by evading a 2014 Federal Labor Relations Authority ruling that prohibits federal agencies from having the sole discretion over I.T. systems and networks.
  • Another “official time”–related bill (H.R. 4392): Introduced in January by Reps. Dennie Ross (R-FL) and Jody Hice (R-GA), this measure seeks to require the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to submit a detailed annual report to Congress relating to the use of official time by federal employees. In February, Chaffetz, Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Hice sent a letter to OPM demanding the names, positions, salary grades/rates, duty stations and space designated within the agency for the use of official time. During the hearing, much debate took place over the issue. “While federal employees may request official time, federal managers and supervisors retain exclusive authority over whether to approve official time requests,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA). “I really think that this bill is a solution in search of a problem.”
  • Midnight Rule Relief Act of 2016 (H.R. 4612): Introduced on Feb. 16 by Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-MI), this bill seeks to prevent the Obama administration from implementing new rules and regulations during the lame-duck session (i.e., after the general election in November and before a new administration is sworn in). A companion Senate measure, S. 2582, was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI).
  • Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act (H.R. 4639): Introduced in late February by Reps. Rod Blum (R-IA) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), this measure would allow the Office of Special Counsel to makes changes to OSC’s operations.

While some of these measures may not directly affect letter carriers or the U.S. Postal Service, it is important that letter carriers be aware of the traction being gained by measures such as these that are harmful to the entire federal-postal community. These measures are expected to be considered on the House floor at any time. Be on the lookout for calls to action that urge your congressional representatives to oppose these attacks.

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