Federal pay and benefits provisions missing from Senate bill

The Senate fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill does not contain some of the federal pay and benefits provisions that the House approved last week in its version of the legislation.

The House approved measures that would allow workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System to count unused sick leave toward their retirement annuities and move employees outside the continental United States into the locality pay system, among other provisions.

The Senate does not include those measures, but they could make their way in during floor debate when the chamber reconvenes after the July 4 holiday.

The House also included a provision that would force the Pentagon to demonstrate whether its pay-for-performance system could be reformed, or else dismantle it within one year. The Senate has included similar language in its version.

Separately, House lawmakers also approved a 3.4 percent pay raise for military members as part of the authorization bill. That figure is 0.5 percentage points higher than the 2.9 percent 2010 pay hike President Obama requested for the military in his February budget proposal. The Senate Armed Services Committee also included a 3.4 pay raise for military members in its version of the DoD authorization bill.

One provision that didn't make it into either bill was one that would allow retirees to return to the government on a part-time basis without taking a cut in their retirement benefits. It has been strongly supported by the Federal Managers Association and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, but has been met with opposition from labor unions such as the American Federation of Government Employees.

Supporters hope it would be included in the final version of the Defense authorization bill that is hammered out in conference committee.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it's not clear whether the chamber will vote on bill amendments offered from the floor.

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