Connolly Amendments Included in House-Passed FY20 NDAA Conference Report
Today, the House of Representatives adopted the conference report for the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act, which included amendments offered by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) regarding the proposed elimination of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the government-wide backlog of security clearance adjudications, and the loopholes that still allow servicemembers who have been convicted in domestic violence cases to purchase firearms. The report also included a provision, backed by Connolly and the National Capital Region delegation, providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. The House passed the conference report 377-48.
Proposed Merger of OPM and GSA: Connolly’s amendment puts a hold on the administration’s proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration by prohibiting the transfer or merging of any authority or responsibility from OPM to GSA until a comprehensive study of the proposal is conducted and submitted to Congress.
“The whole of the federal government functions thanks in large part to the work of the dedicated staff at the Office of Personnel Management,” said Connolly. “They, and every federal employee, deserves better than the administration’s shortsighted proposal to eliminate OPM altogether. This amendment makes clear that there are ways to improve efficiency and modernize the federal government. This merger simply isn’t one of them.”
Paid Family Leave: This provision, originally introduced in the House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave benefits for all federal employees. Earlier this month, Rep. Connolly and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were joined by the National Capital Region delegation in urging the Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include the provision in the final conference report.
“It is our absolute duty as Members of Congress to advocate on behalf of the 2.6 million federal employees who carry out the laws we pass and who make up the most professional, non-partisan civil service in the world,” said Connolly. “Providing this paid leave will allow the government to better recruit and retain the best and brightest, and will provide our federal workforce with some long overdue, and much deserved, financial security and peace of mind.”
Security Clearances Backlog: Connolly’s amendment requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue a quarterly report to Congress detailing the government-wide backlog of security clearance adjudications and a mitigation plan to reduce the backlog.
“We all recognize the importance of properly vetting those who would keep our nation’s secrets, said Connolly. “But the proper vetting process is all for naught if it can’t efficiently fill critical vacancies across the federal government.This amendment forces the Executive Branch to grapple with its unacceptable backlogs and will, I hope, result in an actionable plan for a better path forward.”
Domestic Violence Loopholes: Under current law, Military Protective Orders (MPOs) issued by unit commanders in response to domestic violence incidents do not prohibit individuals from purchasing firearms. However, comparable civilian protective orders issued by judges do prohibit such purchases. Connolly’s amendment, based on his Safe Homefront Act, tasks the Department of Defense with studying the feasibility of creating a database of military protective orders issued in response to domestic violence incidents, and either reporting such orders to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or establishing a process by which military judges, and not unit commanders, could issue protective orders in response to domestic violence.
“Abuse is abuse, and no perpetrator of domestic violence – be they military or civilian – should be able to pass a background check and legally purchase a gun,” said Connolly. “This amendment simply asks DoD to hold servicemembers who break the law to the same standard as their civilian counterparts.”
Since coming to Congress, Connolly has had nearly 40 amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act adopted in the House, including the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was enacted in law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014.