Good? Budget News...

Politico is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives' Interior & Environment Appropriations Subcommittee "finalized a fiscal 2018 Interior and Environment spending package" with only "slight reduction in funds from current levels...."  Politico reports that the bill would give agencies covered by the spending bill, including EPA, "$31.5 billion for fiscal year 2018 compared to $32.37 billion in current funding."

While cuts to EPA's programs are likely to negatively impact environmental protection....

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Congressional Letter in Support of Feds

Yesterday, 102 Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), strongly opposing the assaults on federal pay and retirement contained in the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal.

Calling the administration’s proposals that impact the take-home pay and retirement benefits for current federal employees and retirees “destructive,” the legislators asked both congressional leaders to block any effort to bring such proposals to the House floor for votes. They pointed out that no other group has been asked to sacrifice more for deficit reduction than the federal workforce.

Federal employees have already been deprived of $182 billion in pay and benefits. The FY 2018 budget would add another $149 billion in cuts.

We appreciate these members’ support in fighting to stop pay and retirement cuts, and for holding Congress accountable to keep its promises to its workforce and retirees. Clearly, these members of Congress recognize the valuable service provided by our members to the nation. NTEU will continue to work with these members to “oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of public servants,” as the legislators wrote in their letter

To learn more about the budget and legislation, please visit the NTEU legislative action center.

 

Administrator Pruitt to Testify on Proposed Cuts at EPA

According to Politico, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will testify before the House Appropriations Interior-EPA subcommittee on Thursday, June 15 at 1 p.m. The Committee's website confirms this here.

According to Politico, "appropriators have already indicated they will not cut away EPA's budget as severely as the White House's proposal, particularly on state grants and popular programs cleaning up the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and other regions."

Of course, even if the cuts are half as bad as what is proposed, a 15% cut could be devastating to EPA's programs, personnel, and ultimately environmental protection.

Cutting Federal Pension System Would Add to Nation’s Retirement Crisis

The administration’s forthcoming budget proposal for 2018 is expected to include devastating cuts to the retirement benefits of federal employees, marking yet another unwarranted attack on middle-class civil servants that the National Treasury Employees Union will strongly oppose.
 
The proposed changes will cut the pay of federal employees by increasing their retirement contributions repeatedly for consecutive years. This would easily negate....

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Congressional Review Act

Roll Call ran an interesting article today on the Congressional Review Act and its possible use beyond the CRA's normal 60-legislative-day limit. Recall that the CRA allows Congress to veto an agency's rule before the rule goes into effect, provided that Congress acts to veto it before the end of 60 legislative days.

The article notes....

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Shutdown Averted: Congress Passes Spending Bill

From NTEU National.....

The Senate today followed the House in approving a [spending package] to fund the federal government though the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The president is expected to sign the measure before funding expires Friday night. Passage of this bipartisan spending bill eliminates the threat of another government shutdown for the next five months.

While NTEU is pleased that the $18 billion in cuts originally proposed were not part of the final agreement, many federal agencies remain underfunded and understaffed after several years of cuts and inadequate funding. 

As the debate shifts to the fiscal 2018 congressional budget, NTEU is pressing for adequate and stable funding for the federal government so that agencies have the resources they need and federal employees are not left anxious with another shutdown countdown.

In the passed spending bill, the Environmental Protection Agency received an $81.4 million decrease from fiscal year 2016 (FY16). EPA was operating on a continuing resolution, allowing it to spend at FY16 levels. The $81.4 million budget cut amounts to approximately a 1% spending reduction.

Government Shutdown Looms...Again

Roll Call is reporting that another government shutdown and furloughs may be in the works.

The article notes that "congressional negotiators had been making good progress but the White House has not been constructive." The story quotes staffers who say that it will be difficult, given the state of negotiations, "to meet the April 28 funding deadline and thus a short-term continuing resolution would be needed."

But Democratic leaders, ....

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CR Update: Congress Needs to Get it In Gear, Soon

EPA's current funding expires, with much of the federal government's, on Friday, April 28th. Both Congress and the President must act in order to prevent a government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations.

Congressional leadership and the administration are in negotiations regarding appropriations legislation that would keep federal agencies operating for the remainder of fiscal year 2017, which ends on September 30. With Congress heading into a two-week recess....

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Federal Budget Update

President Trump submitted a supplemental request to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding. Current FY 2017 funding expires on April 28th.

Congress is scheduled to be in recess the weeks of April 10th and 17th, leaving only five legislative days upon their return before funding expires. Congress must either pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) or pass eleven remaining appropriations bills before this date. Failure to act will cause another government shutdown.

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Cuts are coming, but......

....the question is:  when? 

You've probably seen the Greenwire story covering the budget cuts at EPA announced by the White House today. But while the White House wants to significantly cut EPA, there are a number of procedural obstacles in their way that would delay those cuts, hopefully into the next fiscal year. Here's why.....

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Rally at U.S. Capitol

Please join NTEU members from across the country as we rally at the U.S. Capitol for fair pay, a secure retirement, and respect.

The rally happens:

when:  Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
where:  U.S. Capitol, West Front Lawn

Use your lunch time to rally. Anytime over your normal lunch period is considered non-work time and should be accounted for through leave, credit hours, or other absence time.

We really need you to come for this. Now, more than ever it's important that EPA employees stand together.

2.02% Pay Raise Expected for 2017

Earlier in the year the President announced a 1.0% across-the-board pay raise for federal General Schedule (GS) employees. Now, under different authority, the President transmitted to Congress his plan to provide an additional 0.6% average locality pay increase for federal GS employees.

In the Washington-Baltimore area, this means GS employees will receive a 2.02% pay raise after January 1, 2017.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, the....

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Why is NTEU Suing OPM?

Image courtesy Nextgov.com (AP Photo by Susan Walsh)

Image courtesy Nextgov.com (AP Photo by Susan Walsh)

Members periodically inquire about why NTEU is suing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management over the massive data breach, thought to be perpetrated by Chinese hackers. The lawsuit was filed to protect members’ constitutional right to informational privacy, which OPM violated by failing to properly secure the records, despite numerous warnings about security deficiencies from OPM’s inspector general.

How bad was the problem and what did OPM know and conceal? A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report, "accuses OPM of misleading the public and Congress about the breaches to play down the fallout — criticizing the agency for its claims that the two cyber attacks were not connected and not proactively announcing the first breach when it was uncovered in 2014," according to The Washington Post. The article also notes that the problem was imminently preventable, noting that "numerous inspector general reports ... raised the alarm about the agency's digital security before the hacks," according to The Post.

Among other relief requested by NTEU in its lawsuit, NTEU wants the court to order OPM to provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection for any NTEU member affected by the cyber attacks and to take corrective measures to improve its information technology security. Lifetime credit monitoring is the least the government should do for this instance of gross OPM negligence. We all devote our lives to protecting human health and the environment, so we should be able to expect that the Office of Personnel management is protecting our information, and if they aren't, that they take care of protecting us after the breach.

But OPM doesn't want to protect you. Rather than OPM stepping up and doing what's right and providing long-term credit monitoring, OPM is seeking to dismiss the NTEU lawsuit. Oral argument on the OPM Motion to Dismiss is scheduled oral argument for Oct. 27. More on the NTEU lawsuit here.