Saturday, June 20, 2009

H.R. 2346: Overseas Comparability Pay, Almost Here

I was not paying much attention to this; the CRS summary from May 2009 did not even include the OCP adjustment in its text. But it looks like H.R. 2346: Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 “Making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes” is going to be the vehicle that would finally close the overseas comparability gap in the Foreign Service.

H.R. 2346 passed the House on May 14, 2009 and passed the Senate on May 21, 2009. The differences were resolved on Jun 16, 2009 and the bill was cleared for the WH on Jun 18, 2009. Having passed in identical form in both the House and Senate, this bill now awaits the signature of the President before becoming law.

See H.R. 2346 page in govtrack here. Click here for the final text of the enrolled bill (scroll down for Title XI).

Title XI: Department of State (relevant sections on OCP, reemployment of annuitants and incentives for critical posts reprinted in full below).

Overseas Comparability Pay Adjustment Sec. 1113. (a) Subject to such regulations prescribed by the Secretary of State, including with respect to phase-in schedule and treatment as basic pay, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated for this fiscal year in this or any other Act may be used to pay an eligible member of the Foreign Service as defined in subsection (b) of this section a locality-based comparability payment (stated as a percentage) up to the amount of the locality-based comparability payment (stated as a percentage) that would be payable to such member under section 5304 of title 5, United States Code if such member’s official duty station were in the District of Columbia.

(b) A member of the Service shall be eligible for a payment under this section only if the member is designated class 1 or below for purposes of section 403 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3963) and the member’s official duty station is not in the continental United States or in a non-foreign area, as defined in section 591.205 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations.

(c) The amount of any locality-based comparability payment that is paid to a member of the Foreign Service under this section shall be subject to any limitations on pay applicable to locality-based comparability payments under section 5304 of title 5, United States Code.

Technical and Other Provisions Sec. 1115. (a) Modification- Title III of division H of Public Law 111-8 is amended under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ in the second proviso by striking ‘up to $20,000,000’ and inserting ‘not less than $20,000,000’.

(b) Notification Requirement- Funds appropriated by this Act that are transferred to the Department of State or the United States Agency for International Development from any other Federal department or agency shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations, notwithstanding any other provision of law.

(c) Reemployment of Annuitants-

(1) Section 824 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4064) is amended in subsection (g)(1) by inserting ‘, Pakistan,’ after ‘Iraq’ each place it appears; and, in subsection (g)(2) by striking ‘2009’ and inserting instead ‘2010’.

(2) Section 61 of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 2733) is amended in subsection (a)(1) by adding ‘, Pakistan,’ after ‘Iraq’ each place it appears; and, in subsection (a)(2) by striking ‘2008’ and inserting instead ‘2010’.

(3) Section 625 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2385) is amended in subsection (j)(1)(A) by adding ‘, Pakistan,’ after ‘Iraq’ each place it appears; and, in subsection (j)(1)(B) by striking ‘2008’ and inserting instead ‘2010’.

(d) Incentives for Critical Posts- Notwithstanding sections 5753(a)(2)(A) and 5754(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, appropriations made available by this or any other Act may be used to pay recruitment, relocation, and retention bonuses under chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code to members of the Foreign Service, other than chiefs of mission and ambassadors at large, who are on official duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. This authority shall terminate on October 1, 2010.

(e) Of the funds appropriated under the heading ‘Foreign Military Financing Program’ in Public Law 110-161 that are available for assistance for Colombia, $500,000 may be transferred to, and merged with, funds appropriated under the heading ‘International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement’ to provide medical and rehabilitation assistance for members of Colombian security forces who have suffered severe injuries.

There -- are you smiling yet? This is turning out to be a memorable June. If I don't catch the news when POTUS sign this into law, please zap me an email.

Related Item: (updated 6/22/09) AFSANet on Closing the Overseas Pay Gap

Updated: 6/22/09 @10:29 pm:

Thomas indicates that H.R. 2346 was cleared for the White House on 6/18/2009 and presented to the President on 6/19/2009. The following describes the enactment into law following approval by both houses. Read the whole thing here.

Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution outlines the procedure for presidential judgment of legislation. The president has four options: sign the bill, which makes it law; VETO the bill and return it to Congress; refuse to take any action, in which case, after ten days, the bill becomes law without the president's signature; or, if less than ten days are left in the congressional term, "pocket veto" the bill by not signing it (because Congress has no time to take up the bill, the pocket veto kills the bill).

There should be a final word on this between now and July 3.

3 comments:

jc said...

My (possibly flawed) understanding is that for FSOs to actually received overseas comparability pay it will need to be included both in the appropriations bill and in the authorization bill. There have been times in the past when one or the other bill passed, but not both. The Authorization bill, H.R. 2410 has passed the House, and the Senate has yet to pass it.

dachelvizsla said...

This also appears only to be for FY 2010, not as a permanent measure, whereas 2410 would be permanent, yes?

diplopundit said...

Hi JC - I could be wrong -- but this is an appropriation bill - a supplemental to the original 2009 funding bill. My guess is the authorization language has been inserted in this bill during the committee conference. So my guess is if this signed by POTUS, it should work this time. I hope I won't have to take this guess back in the forthcoming weeks.

And yes, to Dachelvizsla -- this one is going to expire in the next FY, so the big bill is really still HR 2410. I have not seen any movement on that in the Senate though ...