Rep. Hoyer warns of ‘freezes, furloughs, layoffs’

House appropriators passed the Financial Services and General Government 2025 spending bill yesterday, though it's 20% below what President Biden wanted.

  • The spending bill to support the funding for the rest of the government is facing a 25% cut. House appropriators passed the Financial Services and General Government 2025 spending bill yesterday and it is 20% below the administration's request and 10% below this year's enacted levels. But Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the reductions, especially those to the IRS of some $2 billion, will have a much bigger effect than any one agency's budget. "This bill funds every other bill you are going to consider or it funds paying the almost $900 billion to the debt." Hoyer said the cuts also mean federal workers could face hiring freezes, furloughs or layoffs, which will impact the services to citizens.
    (Markup Fiscal Year 2025 - House Appropriations Committee)
  • A new report by the research organization RAND found that the majority of federal funding to assist military-to-civilian employment transitions goes toward educational benefits rather than helping service members and veterans find work. In 2019, four programs, including the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and DoD's Tuition Assistance Program, accounted for $13.5 billion out of $14.3 billion in total. Meanwhile, the DoD's Transition Assistance Program received $140 million in funding. But there is not enough evidence to support that federally funded employment transition programs are effective. The study also found that military-to-civilian transition programs have limited oversight.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is staying the course on plans to roll out a new Electronic Health Record. The VA extended its contract with Oracle-Cerner for another 11 months. Both parties agree to come back to the negotiating table each year to renew the multi-billion-dollar contract. The VA and Oracle-Cerner approved a one-month extension in May to continue contract talks. The Defense Department is done with its deployment of the same EHR. But only six VA sites are using it and further rollouts are on hold, as the VA addresses problems at those sites. The VA said it plans to resume go-lives in fiscal 2025.
  • A bill looking to expand fertility treatment coverage in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program has failed to advance to a floor vote. Senate Republicans effectively blocked the Right to IVF Act Thursday afternoon. The legislation, which Democrats introduced last week, did not reach the 60-vote threshold to advance to a floor vote. If passed, the bill would in part increase requirements for carriers in the FEHB program to provide more fertility treatment coverage to enrollees. Even after the bill failed, advocacy groups are calling on the Office of Personnel Management to take it upon itself to make the changes. They want OPM to heighten requirements for FEHB carriers to further cover in-vitro fertilization (IVF) — both medications and treatments.
  • The White House joins a chorus of opposition, including that of Army leadership, to the idea of creating a separate Army drone branch. The White House Office of Management and Budget said creating a separate drone corps will limit the service’s flexibility to deploy drone technology at scale. OMB also said the Army secretary already has the power to create new branches within the service and that creating a separate drone branch through legislation will hinder the Army’s ability to address current and future requirements.
  • Oversight processes at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission need some work, according to the Government Accountability Office. Agencies are responsible for managing their own EEO programs for federal workers. But GAO said the commission’s system for tracking those programs does not have guardrails for clearly identifying issues, or making sure decisions are timely. A lack of oversight can lead to challenges in figuring out whether agencies are EEO-compliant. GAO’s new report shows, for instance, that 16 agencies did not have anti-harassment policies in place. The EEOC said its working on enhancing and modernizing its oversight processes.
  • A major change to the General Services Administration's schedules program will make it easier for agencies to buy software more like the private sector. GSA will now let agencies pay upfront for software licenses through the schedules program. This change is specifically aimed at making it easier for agencies to buy cloud services, which has been hampered by the Advance Payment Statute, which originated in 1823. The interpretation of the statue required agencies to pay for services in the arrears. The update comes after GSA conducted research and gathered input from agency buyers and vendors last summer.
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is one step closer to getting new leadership. President Joe Biden nominated Christy Goldsmith Romero, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to lead the FDIC. The current FDIC Chairman says he will step down as soon as a successor is confirmed. An independent report commissioned by the FDIC recently substantiated claims of a toxic workplace culture.

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