Late last night, the U.S. Senate voted by unanimous consent on a short-term funding measure (amended H.R. 695) that would allow agencies without full-year Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 funding to operate through Friday, February 8 at existing funding levels. This measure is expected to be on the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote later today.
As a reminder, the following NTEU-represented agencies are currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR, P.L. 115-298) that expires tomorrow night: IRS and other Department of Treasury Offices and Bureaus, CBP and FLETC, CFTC, EPA, FCC, FDA (portions), FEC, NPS, PTO, SEC, and USDA.
While NTEU is pleased that the Senate has acted to avert a shutdown for these agencies, we are deeply disappointed that this latest CR does not contain language to override the President’s planned pay freeze, meaning that there will be no increase to General Schedule (GS) salaries in early January. The funding measure also does not contain any provisions for any type of funding increases or flexibilities for the IRS, CBP, or other NTEU-represented agencies, as it is a narrowly-crafted or so-called ‘clean’ measure designed to simply keep the above agencies open through February 8.
Several Senators continued to press yesterday to secure the federal employee pay increase and to protect workers should a shutdown occur. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) organized a last-minute push to include the Senate-passed 1.9 percent pay adjustment and strategically filed an amendment that would add the pay raise language to this latest CR. Senators Brown (D-OH), Cardin (D-MD), Coons (D-DE), Feinstein (D-CA), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Merkley (D-OR), Murray (D-WA) Schatz (D-HI), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), and Udall (D-NM) cosponsored the amendment and joined this legislative attempt. Beyond the immediate CR, these efforts also served to highlight the remaining need to act on a pay increase—by the next Congress in the form of a retroactive pay increase for federal employees in the subsequent funding measure to be considered in early 2019.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) also filed an amendment in similar fashion that would ensure any potentially furloughed federal employees receive back pay as well as requiring federal agencies to allow employees to carry over any unused “use or lose” days into 2019 that could otherwise be forfeited were a partial shutdown to occur at the end of the calendar year preventing planned scheduling of these days.
At the close of the 115th Congress (2017–2018), with the President’s pay freeze nearing its implementation, our nation’s elected officials are failing to provide for the federal workforce. NTEU is committed to seeing the incoming 116th Congress (2019–2020) address the lack of a pay increase in early 2019.
In order to avoid a partial shutdown, the House of Representatives must now pass this Senate-passed CR and the President must sign the measure by tomorrow night.
I will keep you updated on further developments.
For more information, please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.