Pay and Benefits Watch: Hiding benefits goodies

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Congress loves to stash federal pay and benefits changes in the nooks and crannies of the annual appropriation and authorization bills. Those bills tend to be among the more gargantuan pieces of legislation that come off Capitol Hill each year.

Because the bills are so large, federal employees sometimes don't learn about what pay and benefits goodies are in them until well after the President has signed them.

That's why Pay and Benefits Watch has begun a scavenger hunt through the 13 appropriations bills and the various authorization bills on a quest to unearth provisions that affect your wallet.

This week, the hunt focuses on the Defense, Energy and Water, and Treasury-Postal appropriations bills, along with the Defense authorization bill. Pay and Benefits Watch has dug through both the Senate and House versions of those bills, and below is what we found. (Keep in mind that the two versions of each bill will be reconciled in conference committee, so some of these provisions may disappear and new provisions may be added.)

Treasury-Postal appropriations bill

House (H.R. 2490):

  • A sense of Congress statement that military and civilian pay increases should be the same next year.
  • An increase in the next President's salary from $200,000 to $400,000.
  • Increasing the Customs Service commissioner's pay to Level III of Executive Level pay ($125,900 this year), up from Level IV ($118,400 this year).
  • Buyouts of up to $25,000 for employees of the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration through Jan. 1, 2003.
  • Buyouts of up to $25,000 for employees of the Chicago Financial Center of Treasury's Financial Management Service until Jan. 31, 2000.
  • A measure requiring agencies to offer managers reimbursement for professional liability insurance.
  • A measure authorizing agencies to subsidize child care for low-income workers.
  • Mandatory contraceptive coverage and a ban on the funding of abortions in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Senate (S. 1282):

  • A provision to increase the availability of child care in federal facilities and ensure the safety of federal day-care centers.
  • Mandatory contraceptive coverage and a ban on the funding of abortions in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
  • Buyouts of up to $25,000 for employees of the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration through Jan. 1, 2003.
  • Buyouts of up to $25,000 for employees of the Chicago Financial Center of Treasury's Financial Management Service until Jan. 31, 2000.

Defense Authorization bill

House (H.R.1401):

  • A 4.8 percent pay increase for members of the military, military pay table reform and an end to the "Redux" retirement program.
  • Increase the pay cap on senior executives paid out of nonappropriated funds to Level III of the Executive Level pay schedule.
  • A provision providing restoration of leave to civilian personnel who lose leave while serving in combat zones.

Senate:

  • A 4.8 percent pay increase for members of the military, military pay table reform and an end to the "Redux" retirement program.
  • Opening the Thrift Savings Plan to military personnel.
  • A provision providing restoration of leave to civilian personnel who lose leave while serving in combat zones.
  • Extension of the Pentagon's authority to offer employees up to $25,000 to retire until Sept. 30, 2003. The buyout authority is currently set to expire on Sept. 30, 2001.
  • A measure allowing for the lump-sum payment of severance pay for employees seperated by Oct. 1, 2003.
  • Repeal of the law that reduces retirement pay for retired military officers who work as civilians for the federal government.
  • Allow for the total compensation of the faculty and staff of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to exceed the caps on most federal employees' pay.
  • Improving dental insurance coverage for military retirees.

Defense Appropriations bill

House (H.R. 2561):

  • A 4.8 percent pay increase for members of the military, military pay table reform and an end to the "Redux" retirement program.
  • A measure to allow the Defense Department to pay health care professionals on the same scale as the Veterans Affairs Department uses for its health care staff.

Senate (S. 1122):

  • A 4.8 percent pay increase for members of the military, military pay table reform and an end to the "Redux" retirement program.

Energy and Water Appropriations bill

House (H.R. 2605):

  • None found.

Senate (S.1186):

  • None found.
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