CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
S. Con. Res. 77 is being considered on the floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. This legislation was introduced by Sen. Schumer (D-NY) on December 10, 2010 and passed by unanimous consent the same day.
S. Con. Res. 77 would approve the final regulations issued by the Office of Compliance (OOC) to implement provisions of the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) as they apply to the legislative branch and congressional employees. The final regulations would apply to any employee of the House of Representatives, the Capitol Guide Board, the Capitol Police Board, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the Office of the Attending Physician, and the Office of Compliance. Under the regulations, veterans would be eligible for be eligible for preferences under VEOA and would be allowed to bring claims under VEOA.
Late in the 105th Congress, changes to veterans’ preferences were enacted as P.L. 105-339, the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998. The legislation was meant to reverse the decline in the proportion of veterans as a share of the federal workforce, which dropped from 37 percent in 1984 to 28 percent in 1995. Generally, the law allows eligible veterans to apply and compete for positions under merit promotion procedures when an agency is recruiting from outside its own workforce. The competitive advantages held by preference-eligible veterans take several forms, including points added to examination scores, waiver of physical requirements, more liberal use of military service as applicable experience, and in some cases, direct hiring into positions excepted from the competitive process.
While preferences under the VEOA already apply to federal agencies, regulations within Congress must be promulgated by the Office of Compliance (OOC). The OOC is a non-partisan agency established to administer and enforce the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), including assisting Congressional employees in “understanding their rights and responsibilities under the CAA.” Among other things, the OOC oversees employment dispute mediation, safety compliance under Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), labor law compliance, and the advancement of “workplace rights.” OOC regulations must be ratified by Congress in order to take effect. The Senate ratified the VEOA regulations on December 10, 2010, by unanimous consent and it must now be approved in the House. An identical House bill, H. Res. 1757 would approve the regulations for House employees, as well as employees in the legislative branch who are not House or Senate employees.
A CBO cost estimate of S. Con. Res. 77 was not yet available as of press time.