House defense policy bill could codify minimum wage for contractors

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House lawmakers are expected to vote this week on an annual defense policy bill already packed with provisions that would impact federal employees and contractors, including codifying President Biden’s $15 minimum wage for the contractors.

The House Rules Committee is due to consider the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (HR 7900) on Tuesday. The House will likely vote on the package, which as a must-have bill is often a vehicle for lawmakers to other laws related to personnel policies elsewhere in the federal government, on Wednesday, according to the leader’s weekly voting schedule. House majority, Steny Hoyer.

During a House Armed Services Committee markup last month, lawmakers added language codifying an executive order establishing the minimum wage for federal contractors at $15 an hour as law. The provision also allows federal agencies to increase their contractor’s minimum wage if they wish.

But it is not done. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has proposed an amendment for consideration by the Rules Committee that would remove this provision from the bill, though Democrats are unlikely to agree to pass the measure.

Elsewhere in the area of ​​federal compensation, Rep. Veronica Escobar successfully amended the bill to include a provision directing the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of the Interior to establish a program to provide at least $1,000 in recruitment and retention bonuses to federal wild lands. firefighters. The minimum amount of such a bonus would automatically increase each year based on the annual change in the consumer price index.

Additionally, some lawmakers have proposed additional measures for the Rules Committee to consider that would provide additional mental health services to wildland firefighters, as well as a measure to provide them with housing allowances if they are hired over 50. miles from their primary residence. .

FBI employees could see their civil service protections improved if the House version of the bill becomes law. An amendment by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., would allow FBI employees who make allegations of retaliation to appeal decisions of the bureau’s internal watchdog to the Merit Systems Protection Board. In addition, if the FBI Review Board does not render a final decision in retaliation cases within 180 days, an employee could seek redress directly from the MSPB.

Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., successfully amended the bill to include the text of a bill to protect inspectors general from political reprisals. The IG Independence and Empowerment Act (HR 2662), which passed the House in June 2021, establishes that inspectors general can only be removed from office for cause, requires a president to notify Congress before placing an IG in non-service status, requires that individuals can only serve in an acting capacity if they are current inspectors general or senior IG staff, and expands the powers of general investigation by inspectors, among other measures.

Although the bill passed the House last year and a Senate committee advanced the bill last November, it has languished ever since awaiting Senate consideration.

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