FMA NATIONAL PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON PASSAGE OF FY 2016 OMNIBUS SPENDING PLAN - December 18, 2015
Alexandria, VA - Today the House of Representatives passed an omnibus spending deal, by a vote of 316-113, that funds the federal government through the end of Fiscal Year 2016. The measure includes several provisions that the Federal Managers Association (FMA) strongly supports and allows for President Obama's 1.3 percent increase to federal employee salaries. The Senate is expected to pass the bill later today, and the President is expected to sign it into law. FMA National President Patricia Niehaus provided the following comments regarding some of the key provisions included in the measure.
"The omnibus spending deal the House approved is not perfect, by any means, but I am happy with several major aspects, and I am grateful that it does not include any of the most egregious proposals that have unfairly targeted federal employees in recent years. With the allowance of the pay increase, and extended protections for victims of the data breach, as well as the absence of harmful proposals suggested in recent budget resolutions, we appreciate that the Congress has finally put together a long-term plan to remove uncertainty and fund the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016.
"FMA is pleased that the budget deal allows for President Obama's request for a 1.3 percent pay raise. While this 1.3 percent raise is better than nothing, I steadfastly continue to urge our nation's elected officials to return to the formulaic process employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine annual salary adjustment recommendations, and properly recognize the federal workforce as it strives to create a more efficient and effective federal government. Federal managers see the continued dedication of the men and women of the federal workforce who serve their fellow Americans daily, at home and abroad. We protect our nation's borders, provide care for our veterans and the elderly, ensure the safety of our food, and work alongside the country's military forces.
"I am also grateful that the bill provides for ten years of identity theft protection for the millions of victims affected by the data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management. While this falls short of the lifetime protections FMA has called for, it is certainly better than the three years currently approved. The Association is grateful for the leadership of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on this issue, and continues to support the RECOVER Act, legislation introduced in both the House and Senate that would provide lifetime coverage.
"Further, we support the provision that raises the public transit benefit to $255 per month, restoring it to the level of the parking benefit. This is a simple issue of fairness for those employees who rely on public transit to get to and from the office, rather than driving a car.
"I must note my frustration that we are only now, a week before Christmas, getting a funding bill for Fiscal Year 2016, which began two and a half months ago. If Congress is sincere in its commitment to provide American taxpayers with federal services in an efficient and cost-effective manner, lawmakers must navigate the annual appropriations process in a timely fashion. Enormous stress is placed on federal programs when continuing resolutions fund operations, instead of traditional appropriations measures. Agencies are handcuffed from obtaining the necessary resources required to handle rising workloads. Budget uncertainty forces managers and supervisors to focus more on short-term operations and less on their core missions, impeding efficiency and ultimately costing the government and American taxpayers more money in the long run. The reliance on continuing resolutions inhibits agencies' abilities to anticipate funding levels and allocate resources in an effective fashion to boost productivity and the delivery of services. Providing agencies with timely and adequate budgets is the only course of action to prevent these avoidable challenges.
"That said, FMA urges the Senate to adopt this compromise spending package to help give managers certainty and resources through the rest of FY 2016. I thank Congress for the work they have put into this bill."