Here are a few documents that can help with congressional visits and issues.
AFGE Council 283 Issue Booklet Feb. 2017: This document urges Congress to support the EPA’s budget and its work towards clean water and air, so it and partners can continue to protect Americans’ health.
10 Things Federal Government Employees Want You to Know: 2 pager highlighting the merits of federal employees and the 2017 legislative priorities.
2017 Fast Facts: Facts from federal pay and benefits to crippling the union, check out the myths and the attacks on federal employees.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the new chairman of the oversight panel. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The House panel with primary oversight of the federal workforce and agency operations got off to a contentious start in its first meeting Tuesday, with nominal calls for bipartisanship overshadowed by political bickering.
Largely at issue was the process for subpoenaing individuals to testify before the committee and agencies to submit information; at one point the discussion devolved into a debate over how to recruit workers to federal service.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, began his first address as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee offering olive branches to the Democratic minority and with promises to work together in ways where his predecessor, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., failed. He also spoke highly of the federal workforce, calling the employees “wonderful,” “diligent” and “patriotic.”
He added, however, there are bad apples at every agency, and “we have to address those.”
The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who served in the same position under Issa, said the last four years were marked by acrimony. Issa’s reign was a “stain on this committee’s integrity and an embarrassment to the House of Representatives,” Cummings said.
While Chaffetz promised to lead the committee in a new direction, Democrats met his first act — to approve the committee’s rules for the 114th Congress — with significant pushback. Democrats took issue with Chaffetz’s plan to continue empowering the chairman to issue subpoenas without a vote or consultation with the minority party.
Cummings warned Chaffetz about going into “Issa mode,” while Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., said Chaffetz and other committee chairmen were “Issa-tizing” the House.
“This is about Republicans not wanting public debate on subpoenas,” Cummings said. “This is a big deal to us. We do not want to slip into darkness.”
Chaffetz defended the rule, arguing federal agencies in the Obama administration have shown resistance to offering testimony and information. An expedited subpoena process is necessary, Chaffetz said, to avoid further delay in receiving what the committee needs.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said Congress must treat witnesses from federal agencies with respect, or “people won’t want to go into government.”
Top-level employees that agencies seek to recruit “have many options,” Maloney said. “They can go into many fields.”
The committee eventually approved the rules, and struck down an amendment to require votes on whom and what to subpoena, by a party line vote. The lawmakers also approved a measure to give certain veterans-turned-civil-servants more up front sick leave, as well as a bill to force federal agencies to provide additional information on the expected costs of their regulations.
The Republican-controlled House this week approved a bill that would impose additional red tape on federal regulators, the people normally dispensing the tape.
The measure, which passed on Tuesday with support from eight Democrats, would require agencies to adopt the least-costly regulations considered during rule-making, with limited exceptions.
The proposal would also add more than 74 new requirements to the rule-making process, many of which would require regulators to carefully document whether they answered questions such as:
* Have you considered the alternative of no federal response?
* Have you considered whether this rule would contribute to the very problem you’re trying to address?
* Are you legally authorized to propose a rule in this situation?
* Have you considered the benefits of alternative rules?
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement last week that the measure would “rein in excessive regulatory costs.”
Although the bill passed the house, it is unclear whether the new Republican-controlled Senate will bother to vote on it, especially after the White House threatened to veto the measure on Monday.
The White House said in a statement that the proposal would “impose unprecedented and unnecessary procedural requirements on agencies that would prevent them from efficiently performing their statutory responsibilities” and “create needless regulatory uncertainty.”
The legislation’s supporters have brushed off that thinking, saying the bill would only give the government a taste of its own medicine.
“We feel your pain,” Dan Danner, chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement this week. “It shouldn’t be easy for the government to make life harder for small businesses and individual citizens.”
If passed, the bill would hinder some of the Obama administration’s biggest regulatory efforts, including plans to implement stricter carbon-emissions standards and a proposal to reclassify Internet providers as public utilities.
In order to overcome a presidential veto, Congress would need to pass the legislation with a two-thirds vote, or supermajority, after Obama rejects it. Republicans do not have enough seats in the House or Senate to accomplish that feat on their own.