With the start of the 2019 Fiscal Year (FY) only a few weeks away, Congress has been actively working on appropriations bills, passing them in small groups, each called a “minibus,” after President Trump expressed displeasure in the spring at signing an omnibus appropriations bill, consisting of all 12 delayed FY18 bills, and stated that he would never do that again.
A formal conference has been called to resolve differences between the House and Senate in each of the minibus bills, but timing is key. There appears to be agreement on minibus I—H.R. 5895, consisting of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bills—but it still needs to pass each chamber. A conference committee meeting for minibus II—H.R. 6147, consisting of the Interior and Environment, Financial Services and General Government (which contains the Senate-passed 1.9% pay increase), Agriculture, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bills—and minibus III— H.R. 6157, consisting of the Department of Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills—has been scheduled for Thursday. Last week, NTEU National President Tony Reardon sent a letter to members of Congress, serving as conferees, about the Financial Services and General Government bill in support of a pay raise for federal employees and full funding of agencies covered by that bill.
The House and Senate were out Monday and Tuesday this week. Next week, the House is scheduled to be out, leaving only seven days where both chambers will be in session at the same time to pass these bills before the end of the fiscal year. Even if Congress were to pass these bills by October 1st, there remains three bills—the State and Foreign Operations, the Homeland Security, and the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bills—that have not passed either chamber, requiring a Continuing Resolution in order to avoid a shutdown at agencies funded by those bills.
NTEU will continue to work with members of the House and Senate to secure adequate funding for agencies along with a pay increase, and to avoid a government shutdown and interruptions to agency operations and to employee pay. However, should a shutdown (full or partial) occur, NTEU will fight to ensure that all federal workers receive their paychecks in a timely manner.