Key Votes Alert: Amendments to H.R. 2029, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

Key Votes Alert: Amendments to H.R. 2029, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

Today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) will score votes in the U.S. House of Representatives in its consideration of H.R. 2029 — “Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and other purposes.”

The votes below pertain to employment considerations for America’s labor force, both governmental and private. CEI’s Congressional Labor and Employment Scorecard can be found at CEI’s labor and employment policy project:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute SUPPORTS the following employment-related amendments:

1.      Representative Jody Hice (R-Ga.) Amendment – Eliminates the practice of taxpayers paying for workers’ time spent on union business rather than official U.S. government work.

  • The amendment would prohibit Veterans Administration (VA) employees from using “official,” taxpayer-funded time, for union activities during the official work day.
  • U.S. taxpayers pay 259 VA employees to work exclusively on union matters, rather than to help veterans. The cost of official time for the VA in FY2012 was more than $45 million.
  • At a time when there are more than 400,000 veterans who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment at the VA, it is inexcusable for the VA to allow hundreds of employees to operate exclusively on official time. In other words, they are only working on union activities instead of helping veterans.
  • The amount of official time used by the VA has increased over the years: the VA spent more than 1 million man-hours on official time in 2012 – an almost 9% increase from 2011.
  • The VA accounts for almost one-third of all “official time” used across the federal government – 1,086,257 hours in FY2012.
  • This amendment would not repeal the right of any VA employee to collectively bargain or arbitrate.

2.   Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) Amendment – Prohibits Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements for projects funded by the bill.

  • The Davis-Bacon Act is an 80-year-old federal wage-subsidy law for government construction, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) observes that other federal and state laws and changes in labor markets eliminate the need for it.
  • A suspension of Davis-Bacon would bolster job creation, productivity, and economic growth.
  • Inflated Davis-Bacon wages are not merited from hard work, but forced by special interest.
  • Organizations could hire approximately 20% more workers by paying market wages.
  • In November 2013, CBO listed Davis Bacon Act repeal as an option to reduce the deficit.
  • CBO estimated Davis-Bacon raises federal construction costs by $15.7 billion over 10 years.

The preferred vote is:

YES on the Representative Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) amendments to H.R. 2029, the FY 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.