NTEU Chapter 296
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  • Today, House authorizing committees completed their work on the FY 2021 Budget Reconciliation COVID relief package, which includes several provisions that would impact federal employees
    Feb 16, 2021

    SUMMARY:  Today, House authorizing committees completed their work on the FY 2021 Budget Reconciliation COVID relief package, which includes several provisions that would impact federal employees.

                This week, several committees of the House of Representatives held markups to consider legislation that will be part of the FY 2021 Budget Reconciliation COVID relief package.  These bills included a number of provisions that would impact federal employees.

    Today, the House Committee on Oversight approved legislation that would provide 600 hours (15 weeks) of emergency paid leave for federal employees who are required to quarantine, are ill with COVID-19, are caring for a child whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions or whose school or place of care has been closed or requires or makes optional a virtual learning hybrid in-person/virtual instruction model, or those who are caring for a family member incapable of self-care whose care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.  This leave could also be used to obtain immunization from COVID or for time off due to illness as a result of the immunization.  While this benefit is capped at $1,400 per week, it ensures that no employee will go without income while dealing with pandemic-related issues. It expires after September 30, 2021.  Initially, this provision would have required employees to exhaust all earned sick leave before they could use any of these 600 hours of leave, but we were successful in pushing for the removal of that requirement.

    Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved legislation that would impact the IRS.  Under the proposal, the IRS would be tasked with delivering a third round of economic impact payments of $1,400 per person and provide families with advance payments of their Child Tax Credit for tax year 2021.  Between July and December 2021, these advance payments would be provided monthly - or less frequently, if the IRS has implementation challenges - to the tax filer who claimed the child on a previous year tax return. To carry out these new responsibilities, the bill authorizes more than $1.8 billion in funding, including dedicated funds to integrate, modernize and secure IRS systems.

    Earlier this week, the House Agriculture Committee approved legislation that would provide $500 million in no-year money to support COVID-19 activities at the NTEU-represented Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This will help ensure that FDA has the funds it needs as its workload grows and shifts in response to the pandemic. Neither the pandemic nor FDA responsibilities in this area can be neatly segmented by fiscal year, so the flexibility provided by these funds would be helpful.

                In addition, the House Education and Labor Committee approved legislation that, among other things, would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 and ensure that that federal employees who came into contact with the public or co-workers in the course of their duties who are then diagnosed with COVID-19 are presumed to have a work-related illness for purposes of eligibility for workers’ compensation.

    The House Budget Committee is expected to consider these bills next week followed by a vote by the full House later this month.  NTEU joined other unions in sending letters in support of several of these provisions and will continue to work with our allies on Capitol Hill to ensure legislation supports and protects federal employees during this pandemic as you continue to work in service to the American people.  We will keep you posted on future developments.


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