NTEU Chapter 296
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  • Congress Releases FY 2021 Omnibus Spending Bill and House passes another short-term Continuing Resolution
    Dec 22, 2020

    SUMMARY: Congress released the text of the FY 2021 omnibus spending and coronavirus relief bill, which is silent on the issue of federal employee pay, thereby deferring to the President’s 1.0 % increase.  In addition, the House has passed a seven-day CR to give more time to print the massive bill and prepare it for the President’s signature.

    Today, Congress released the text of the FY 2021 omnibus spending and coronavirus relief bill.  The House is expected to vote on the bill this evening followed by the Senate.  In addition, the House has passed a seven-day continuing resolution to give lawmakers additional time to print the final text and prepare it for President Trump, who has indicated he will sign both the CR and the spending bill.  As a reminder, government funding expires tonight at midnight.

    As you know, the President proposed a 1.0 percent pay increase for federal employees for 2021 in his alternative pay memo in February.  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.  The omnibus bill is silent on the amount of the pay increase, thus deferring to the President’s proposal of 1 percent.  While not as much as federal workers deserve, NTEU is pleased that Congress rejected the Senate’s proposed pay freeze, which the White House later supported.  NTEU strongly objected to the proposed pay freeze and fought to ensure that employees received a pay increase in recognition of their hard work.  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.

    While the omnibus does not contain any language to protect employee collective bargaining rights or a defunding of the Schedule F Executive Order, we are pleased that it also does not contain language that interferes in the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board's (FRTIB) fiduciary duty to provide the best investments for federal employees, retirees and the military.  As you may recall, the Senate bill would have stopped the proposed expansion of the International (I) Fund in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  NTEU opposes these efforts, which puts federal employees' retirement portfolios at a distinct disadvantage compared to private-sector workers.

    However, NTEU is pleased that the bill continues the ban on funding new outsourcing activities under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76 and includes a provision giving federal employees subject to the four-month payroll tax deferral 12 full months to pay back the deferred taxes. The amount of deferred taxes will now be withheld over 26 pay periods instead of eight. NTEU voiced concern that requiring employees to pay the deferred taxes in just four months was too short and would present them with a financial burden in 2021. NTEU commends our congressional allies who fought to give federal employees more time.

    On the issue of funding, the omnibus spending bill would provide the IRS with $11.9 billion in FY 2021, $409 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.  This increase over the FY 2020 level includes an additional $202 million for IRS enforcement, $119 million for operations support, $44 million for taxpayer services, and $42 million for business systems modernization. The bill also continues language that would prohibit the IRS from paying bonuses or awards without taking into consideration an employee’s conduct and tax compliance. In addition, the bill includes an additional $509 million for the IRS to carry out another round of economic incentive payments and address COVID-related tax administration issues.

    The Bureau of the Fiscal Service would receive $345 million for FY 2021, an increase of almost $5 million above the current enacted level while the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) would receive $124 million, an increase of more than $4.5 million above the FY 2020 level.  For the SEC, the bill provides $1.93 billion, an increase of $100.6 million above the FY 2020 level and the same as the President’s budget request.  Funding for the CFTC is the same as the amount recommended by NTEU.

                   For the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the bill provides $15.28 billion, which is $370.7 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.  The bill also provides an additional $840 million in emergency appropriations for the ports of entry to help offset the loss of customs and immigration fee revenue associated with the pandemic.  However, the bill does not provide any funding for CBPO new hires.  Under the bill, APHIS is provided with up to $635 million through the end of FY 2022 to cover the funding shortfall in the Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program caused by the global COVID pandemic.  This amount is $5 million more than NTEU requested.

                   The bill also includes $340.3 million for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, $10.8 million below the FY2020 enacted level and $8.9 million above the President’s budget request, including $4.7 million above the request to expand export training for law enforcement officers.

                   For the Department of Energy (DOE), the bill rejects the steep cuts proposed by the Administration and gives DOE a modest increase.  The bill would also ensure the Patent & Trademark Office can keep all their fee collections, as NTEU has requested. 

                   In addition, other NTEU-represented agencies -- including the Department of Health & Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, Treasury Departmental Offices, Federal Communications Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Social Security Administration – would all receive adequate funding.  Finally, the bill does not include the President's request to put the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the appropriations process, something strongly opposed by NTEU.

                   NTEU will continue to work with Congress to ensure that this bill is passed and that a lapse in appropriations does not occur.  I will keep you updated on any developments. For more information click here

                                                                                        Anthony M. Reardon

                                                                                        National President
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