|The Senate Appropriations Committee released its FY 2021 spending bills, which includes lower funding levels for most agencies than the House bills as well as a pay freeze for federal employees.|
SUMMARY: The Senate Appropriations Committee released its FY 2021 spending bills, which includes lower funding levels for most agencies than the House bills as well as a pay freeze for federal employees. These bills will be used as a starting point for negotiations with the House on a final spending agreement.
Overall, the Senate bills provide less funding for NTEU-represented agencies than the House bills. For example, the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill, which sets funding for the IRS and SEC and has jurisdiction over government-wide employee issues, totals $24.11 billion, less than the $24.94 billion provided by the House bill and the $24.14 billion provided for FY 2020.
As you know, the President has proposed a 1.0 percent pay increase for federal employees for 2021, while proposing a 3.0 percent increase for the military. According to the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act, federal employees should receive a 2.5 percent pay increase in 2021 before locality pay is added. While the House FSGG bill was silent on the amount of the pay increase, thus deferring to the President’s proposal of 1 percent, the Senate bill proposes a pay freeze for 2021. NTEU strongly objects to the federal employee pay freeze contained in the Senate bill and the 1 percent increase proposed by the President, especially considering that many federal workers will face smaller paychecks starting in January when double payroll taxes are withheld to repay the taxes deferred in 2020 without their consent. Federal employees have been on the job throughout the pandemic, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves and their families, because their jobs are essential to delivering important services to the American public. NTEU will continue to fight to ensure that federal employees receive a fair pay increase for 2021.
Both the House and Senate FSGG bills continue the ban on funding new outsourcing activities under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76. While the House bill prohibits funds for being used to implement the administration’s plan to dismantle the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Senate bill simply states that it awaits legislation authorizing the move. Although there are reports that OPM is abandoning its effort to move human resources policy to OMB and the remaining functions to the General Services Administration, NTEU will continue to fight this proposal that jeopardizes the non-partisan federal civil service and the functioning of employee retirement and health care benefits.
On the issue of funding, the Senate FSGG bill provides the IRS $11.5 billion, equal to its FY 2020 level, which is less than the $12.1 billion provided by the House bill. The bill also includes language that would prohibit the IRS from paying bonuses or awards without taking into consideration an employee’s conduct and tax compliance. The Bureau of Fiscal Service, however, would receive $350 million under the Senate bill, an increase of almost $10 million above the FY 2020 level and $9 million above the amount in the House bill. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau would receive $124 million in FY 2021 under the Senate bill, an increase of more than $4.5 million above the FY 2020 level and $2.5 million more than the amount in the House bill.
For the SEC, the Senate bill provides $105 million less than the House, $100 million less than the President’s request, and $20 million less than FY 2020. Funding for the CFTC is the same as the House bill and is the amount recommended by NTEU.
Due to wall funding that is not in the House bill, the Senate Homeland Security bill provides $52.62 billion for DHS in FY 2021, more than the $50.72 billion provided by the House bill and the FY 2020 enacted level of $50.47 billion. No new funding for CBP Officers or Agricultural Specialists new hires are included in the Senate bill, but it does include $8 million to fund 50 new hires at CBP Office of Trade. The House bill would provide $171 million for 1,150 new positions, as follows: $91 million for 850 CBP Officers; $10 million for 100 support personnel; and $30 million for 200 Agriculture Specialists.
The Senate Interior-Environment bill provides $35.81 billion for FY 2021. This is less than the amount provided under the House bill, $36.76 billion, and less than the FY 2020 funding level of $35.99 billion. Specifically, the Senate bill provides $3.122 billion to the NPS, less than the FY 2020 appropriation of $3.377 billion. The House appropriation was $3.224 billion, which is 5 percent less than the FY 2020 appropriation reflecting reduced funding for accounts that address construction and land acquisition, two activities affected by mandatory spending in the recently enacted Great American Outdoor Act.
As Congress negotiates a final spending package, NTEU will continue to fight to ensure that agencies receive necessary funding and that employees receive a fair pay increase.