Some lawmakers are looking to the new Congress to pass legislation to ease the firing of federal employees, with hopes the Republican-controlled Senate will be friendlier to the idea.
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., in July introduced a bill to mitigate the hurdles in firing and suspending senior executives at federal agencies. The Senior Executive Service Accountability Act cleared the House in September. Despite receiving no resistance in the lower chamber, the Senate has yet to take up the bill.
A spokeswoman for Walberg told Government Executive it is unlikely the Senate will move on the bill before the new session begins in January. Walberg plans to start from scratch next year, however, and expects future Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring it up for a vote after the House once again passes the measure.
The bill, as currently written, would allow agencies to suspend SES employees for 14 days or less without pay, require the executives to pay back any paid leave used during investigations if they result in a guilty verdict, increase the SES probationary period to two years and expand the definition of fireable offenses.
The likeliest candidate to replace Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., as the chief overseer of the federal workforce, has ideas of his own to hold malfeasant federal employees accountable. In each of the last two sessions of Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has introduced legislation to require federal agencies to fire any employees delinquent on tax debts. M.J. Henshaw, a spokeswoman for Chaffetz, said the legislator will “definitely” prioritize the bill again next year.
“Obviously, with the new Republican-controlled Senate, he’s optimistic,” Henshaw said. She added previous iterations of the bill had bipartisan support, and Chaffetz is hopeful that in the new Congress he “can get it across the finish line.”