Criticizes consideration of Democrats’ bill to dramatically expand paid leave for federal workers
WASHINGTON—At today’s House Committee on Oversight and Reform markup of the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (H.R. 564), Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for seeking to dramatically expand paid leave for federal employees at the taxpayer’s expense. He emphasized this paid leave expansion would be on top of federal employees’ ordinary annual leave and allow for part-time work for full-time pay. Ranking Member Comer concluded by calling for the federal workforce to return to work in-person to better serve the American people and for Congress to put American taxpayers first.
Below are the remarks as prepared.
Let’s compare the Republican approach to the federal workforce with the Democrat’s.
Republicans believe federal employees should get the job done for the American people and should be held accountable when they do not.
Under President Trump, that was the focus.
Through executive orders, the prior Administration took steps to make sure federal employees could be held accountable.
That’s what the American people deserve.
Democrats, however, do not want this.
Rather than holding federal employees accountable, they want to protect poorly performing federal employees while dramatically increasing their benefits.
The Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats are pushing permanent, expanded telework as a national policy.
They are doing this without understanding the impact expanded telework has had on the ability of federal agencies to deliver on their missions to the American public over the past several months.
We already have evidence agencies are falling short.
For example, the National Archives has become a bottleneck in the processing of veterans’ health benefits.
Committee Republicans have requested a hearing to understand why federal bureaucrats have been unable to help America’s veterans get the records they need to prove their benefits claims to these same federal bureaucrats.
Rather than ensuring federal agencies are meeting their missions, especially in the wake of COVID-related shutdowns, we are considering expanding another benefit for the already well-paid and well-protected federal workforce.
The possibility of an additional twelve weeks of paid leave, renewable every year at the taxpayer’s expense.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
Congress just provided paid parental leave for federal workers in 2019’s Federal Employee Paid Leave Act.
And now, less than two years later—before we know the full impacts of that expansion of leave on the federal government—the majority is seeking to expand paid leave even further by covering all categories mentioned in the Family Medical Leave Act.
Federal employees would be eligible for this type of leave every year, on top of their ordinary annual leave.
So, combined with federal holidays, under this legislation, a federal employee might work only eight months out of the year—even less in some cases.
The majority does not even know how much this benefit expansion will cost.
We do not know the consequences.
But they sure do know they want to massively increase perks for federal employees, while private sector employees are scrambling to find good paying jobs in an economy with growing inflation.
Think how much private sector employees would love to have this perk.
The Chairwoman has said repeatedly and very dramatically that this kind of leave is not a “perk.”
The Chairwoman even went so far as to tweet and promote her tweet of her dramatic remarks about the “perk.”
In fact, in any English Dictionary “perk” is defined as “something you receive as well as your wages for doing a particular job.”
In fact, this bill requires American taxpayers’ to further subsidize wonderful perks for federal workers they themselves can only dream of.
This legislation even wraps in the U.S. Postal Service.
Given all the work we have done on postal reform, we know quite well ever rising operational and workforce costs has driven America’s Postal Service to the brink of financial insolvency.
The Chairwoman and I have worked hard on bipartisan legislation to help the Postal Service thrive for the American people, and I fear that this legislation represents another unrealistic Congressional mandate piled on to an institution that is supposed to operate independently.
Let’s not take the Postal Service backwards by imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in additional annual costs on a struggling organization.
The Postal Service workforce is well represented and already has robust benefits.
Madame Chairwoman, millions of Americans are working just to get their jobs back and get their lives back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.
These Americans endured having their businesses and employers shut down, their schools closed, and their communities shuttered.
In fact, many—especially mothers—had to make tough choices between keeping their jobs or educating their children.
But not a single federal worker was forced to make such a choice.
They were never at risk for losing their jobs.
What better benefit is there than that?
And yet, here Democrats are, on the heels of providing paid parental leave during the pandemic, trying to give federal workers even more paid benefits—a massive perk, cost unknown.
And Democrats are asking American taxpayers to pay for these benefits just as the Biden Administration has opened the floodgates of federal spending with a tidal wave of wasteful and unnecessary “aid” that threatens to drown our nation’s economy in inflation.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ policies are insulating federal employees from the kinds of fears and pressures America’s taxpayers have to face.
If the federal government wants to lead by example, as the majority has suggested, it should lead in getting its employees back to work in-person and helping small businesses get their employees back to work, too.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and I yield back.