With two furlough days already in the books for most Defense Department employees, the urgency of bringing an end to the senseless policy is stronger than ever. After immense pressure from federal employees and their unions, Congress is finally starting to heed the will of the people and address the furlough problem.
The U.S. House recently approved two critical amendments to the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Department appropriations bill targeting furloughs. The first, sponsored by Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), would eliminate furloughs for all Defense workers in 2014. The second, sponsored by Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) would eliminate furloughs for Working Capital Fund employees, or roughly 25 percent of the Defense civilian workforce.
Together, these bipartisan amendments would prevent a repeat of the disastrous furloughs that have delayed projects, taken vital resources out of rural communities, and severely strained the budgets of our dedicated Defense workers. Though these amendments fail to address the nine remaining furlough days this year, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM) Federal District 1 believes this is a key first step to ending all furloughs outright.
“This is important because we now have Congress on the record saying that furloughs at Defense are unacceptable,” said NFFE-IAM Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “We still have a long way to go to get these amendments enacted into law, but this is a clear indication that Congress is finally listening to Defense workers and hearing how furloughs are negatively impacting their families and communities. We need to keep on pressing though. This is no time to let up.”
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the legislation for a vote after lawmakers return from August recess. All NFFE-IAM members are encouraged to meet with lawmakers (or their staff) in their state/district offices during the August recess to let them know the importance of ending furloughs. Together we can win this important fight.