Tobacco bill heads to Obama without sick leave fix

The House quickly passed in a 307-97 vote the Senate's version of H.R. 1256 on Friday -- ending hopes that a conference committee between the two chambers could add federal workforce provisions that were stripped from the bill during legislative wrangling.

Unions including the National Federation of Federal Employees had urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to schedule a conference committee to add language from the House's original version, which would have allowed workers in the Federal Employees Retirement System to count unused sick time toward their annuities.

Other provisions that didn't make it into the final bill included measures to make it easier to rehire federal retirees part time; modified how the Civil Service Retirement System calculates annuity payments for employees who retire as part-time workers; and moved federal employees in Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories from cost-of-living adjustments into the locality pay system.

The Senate removed those provisions from the bill, which President Obama has said he will sign into law. The final version retained several measures expanding federal employees' options under the Thrift Savings Plan.

Supporters of the FERS sick leave fix are confident it will be approved this year as part of other legislation.

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