Congress passes Treasury-Postal spending bill
Congress passed the fiscal 2002 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill Thursday, leaving only a presidential signature between civil service employees and a 4.6 percent average pay raise in 2002. The $17.1 billion spending bill passed easily in the House on Wednesday with a 339 to 85 vote. Senators approved it 83 to 15 on Thursday and sent it to President Bush for his signature. The bill includes a 3.4 percent raise for members of Congress, which would raise the cap on Senior Executive Service salaries. SES salaries are tied to congressional salaries. Currently, pay caps keep executives at the top three of the six SES pay levels at the same salary level. In eight cities, federal executives at the top four levels are all paid the same. Aside from pay raises, the bill:
- Gives agencies permanent authority to offer child care subsidies to low-income employees. Congress authorized the current child care subsidy pilot program in September 1999, but its legislative authority ran out on Sept. 30.
- Requires Federal Employees Health Benefits Program plans to provide coverage for contraceptives.
- Creates a new awards program for senior government professionals, mirroring the Presidential Rank Awards for members of the Senior Executive Service. The awards for nonexecutive employees would include cash bonuses.
- Requires the Office of Personnel Management to submit a report to Congress describing the results of a 60-day telework pilot program the General Services Administration would begin once the bill is signed into law. Under the pilot program, GSA is to target employees whose jobs are suited to telecommuting and allow them to work for 60 days at a telecenter.
- Allows Air Traffic Controllers older than 56 to continue to work, depending on how many years they have served. Controllers who manage air traffic are now subject to a mandatory retirement age of 56.
- Allocates $5 million to the President's electronic government fund. In his fiscal 2002 budget request, the President asked for $20 million to fund e-government programs.
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