House Oversight Committee Approves Harmful Official Time Bills

ominious-legislationEarly this morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved several measures, including two official time bills. The committee’s markup and consideration of the bills was held on Wednesday; however, owing to a series of pro-official time amendments offered, the markup stretched over an entire day and votes on the actual amendments and underlying bills were postponed until today.

Two recently-introduced bills, H.R. 1293, introduced by Representative Dennis Ross (FL-15) requiring an annual report from the Office of Personnel Management on agencies’ use of official time—was approved on a voice vote. Representative Jody Hice’s (GA-10) bill, H.R. 1364, that seeks to substantially limit official time—by not providing retirement credit to individuals who spend more than 80% of their regular work hours on official time was also approved on a party-line vote of 23-17. Please note that, as chapter president, I spend 100% of my regular hours on official time.

An amendment offered by Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-5) was added to the bill on a party line vote that would prohibit recruitment, retention, and relocation awards for individuals who spend more than 80% of their time on official time. Representatives Connolly (VA-11), Krishnamoorthi (IL-8) , Kelly (IL-2), Lynch (MA-8), Raskin (MD-8), Plaskett (USVI), Lawrence (MI-14), and Cummings (MD-7) offered amendments strategically crafted to demonstrate the beneficial effects of official time that highlighted the role official time plays to ensure workers receive assistance from unions for workplace issues such as discrimination, safety issues, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and to be protected from retaliation when acting as whistleblowers. All of these amendments were defeated on party line votes.

As you know, NTEU opposes any attempts to limit or restrict official time; however, our main priority is blocking H.R. 1364 given that it penalizes the individual employee’s retirement credits—and therefore their income security—for having agreed to serve on allowable official time. It is unclear at this time whether this bill will advance to the House floor for consideration; however, NTEU is already reaching out and working with our allies in the House, and also with lawmakers in the Senate, to ultimately keep this legislation from advancing further and being enacted into law.

To see what you can do, please visit action.nteu.org.