This week, Republicans on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which determines funding for the Treasury Department, including the SEC, IRS and other NTEU-represented agencies, and has jurisdiction over government-wide employee issues, approved their FY 2024 FSGG appropriations bill. Democrats on the subcommittee all opposed the bill due to, among other things, the significant funding cuts included in the bill that go beyond the cuts agreed to in the debt limit deal earlier this month. The bill now moves to the full Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
The President already proposed a 5.2 percent across the board pay increase for federal employees for 2024, but his budget request was silent as to whether any amount is allocated for locality pay. According to the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act of 1990, federal employees should receive a 4.7 percent pay increase in 2024 before locality pay is added. As you know, the amount of this increase is import to SEC employees because, under Chapter 293's compensation agreement with the agency for 2024, it constitutes one of the primary components of the SEC pay increase (along with performance-based merit pay). The Subcommittee bill is silent on the amount of the pay increase, thus deferring to the President’s proposal of 5.2 percent. NTEU will continue to work with Congress and the administration in support of the FAIR Act (H.R. 536/S. 124), which provides an average 8.7 percent increase consisting of a 4.7 percent across-the-board increase and an average 4.0 percent for locality pay.
The bill also continues the ban on funding new outsourcing activities under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, which is important given recent renewed calls by some in Congress to outsource additional federal jobs.
However, there are several government-wide provisions in the bill that are strongly opposed by NTEU. First is a provision that would prohibit funding for federal agencies until they return to the level of telework and remote work as was the practice before the lessons learned during the pandemic (and implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the SEC). The bill makes no provision to fund the significant amount of additional taxpayer-leased office space that would be needed to implement this ill-advised requirement. Second, it would prohibit the implementation of President Biden’s Executive Orders related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the federal workplace, setting back efforts to advance equal opportunity. Third, the bill includes new language that would prohibit funds for federal employees’ salaries if they refuse to comply with a congressional subpoena. Finally, the bill also would make drastic changes to the Thrift Savings Plan’s (TSP) mutual fund window (MFW) investment option by prohibiting MFW participants from investing in funds that use so-called “ESG investing” strategies (i.e., those that use environmental, social, and governance factors designed to promote societal good). According to the TSP, such a change would require them to eliminate the MFW and deprive participants of a viable retirement investment tool that is available in the private sector.
With regard to specific agency funding, many agencies would see significant cuts under the bill. The SEC would be provided $149.3 million less than in FY 2023 for salaries and expenses, which would be $436.2 million less than the President’s FY 2024 request. It should be remembered that the SEC is funded by trader-paid fees and not by taxpayer dollars, hence such a cut would do nothing to reduce the federal budget deficit, but it would have a huge and negative impact in preventing fraud and cheating in the securities market.
Further hurting consumers from protection against fraud, cheating and scams would be an $8.2 million cut to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), which would be $28.8 million below the President’s FY 2024 request, and would harm the FCC’s ability to combat robocalls and scams against the elderly. For the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the bill would take away the non-appropriated financing of the agency, instead requiring taxpayer dollars to fund CFPB for the first time and providing the agency with $2 million less than its funding in FY 2023. The IRS would receive $11.2 billion for FY 2024, $1.1 billion less the current level and $2.9 billion less than the President's request for FY 2024. Funding for IRS enforcement would be slashed by $1.3 billion below the current level.
Please be assured that as Congress continues consideration of FY 2024 funding legislation, NTEU will continue to fight for a fair pay raise and adequate funding to properly staff federal agencies while opposing harmful policy riders.