Continuing resolution heads to President Obama for signature

By Shefali Kapadia, Emily Kopp, Julia Ziegler and Michael O’Connell

(This story was last updated Sept. 19, 2014 at 6:30 a.m.)

The Senate passed a continuing resolution Thursday evening that will keep the government operating until Dec. 11, 2014. The bill passed in the Senate on a 73-22 vote. The House passed the bill Wednesday on a 319-108 vote.

The bill now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

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At this point, Congress has not used the legislation to block a 1 percent pay raise for federal employees granted by the President. The raise is scheduled to go into effect in January.

The bill provides more funds to the Health and Human Services Department for emergency needs, including $88 million dedicated to fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and developing medical treatments.

It also gives Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement more flexibility to staff up at the border if necessary and extends the Export-Import Bank’s authorization through June 30, 2015.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said Congress’ passage of the CR is a “welcome step in averting another unnecessary and unwise shutdown.” But she expressed concern about the low funding levels for many agencies.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) described the resolution as a “Band-Aid funding measure” that does not yet address budget decisions for individual agencies.

“But at this point, it is our best, most clear path forward,” he said.

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In addition to the spending bill, the House also voted on several “messaging bills” that could change work life for some federal employees.

It’s unlikely the Senate will approve them. The bills are messages that federal employees, from IRS agents to government executives, may want to heed.

The House passed the following bills on a voice vote Tuesday:

  • Senior Executive Service Accountability Act
    The bill would change the due process system for career senior executives accused of wrongdoing. It would let agencies suspend SES employees “for cause” without pay for up to two weeks. And it would let agencies fire or suspend SES members to “promote the efficiency of the Senior Executive Service.” New SES members would be under probation for two years, rather than one.
  • Reactions to the IRS
    Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) has sponsored a trio of bills aimed at the IRS following the scandal in its tax-exempt office. One forbids IRS employees to use personal email for official business. (Yes, that’s already prohibited but, again, this is designed to send a clear message to employees.)
  • VA Construction Assistance Act
    The bill would seek increased oversight of veterans’ hospitals. If signed into law, a project manager from the Army Corps of Engineers would oversee Veterans Affairs construction projects that cost more than $60 million.
  • Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act
    Millions of veterans and their dependents will get a fresh cost-of-living increase for their disability benefits beginning in December. The bill requires veterans’ boost to equal next year’s inflation increase for Social Security recipients. The Senate passed the measure last week, and it now heads to the President’s desk.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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