Holman Rule Alert—House GOP Tries to Renew ‘Holman Rule’ Targeting Federal Pay

By Kellie Mejdrich, CQ

March 19, 2018 – 10:01 p.m.

House Republican leaders have proposed extending a rule that allows cuts to individual federal employees’ salaries as part of a measure approved late Monday night setting up floor procedure for two unrelated bills.

Tucked into a floor rule (H Res 787) that tees up consideration for two unrelated bills (HR 4566HR 5247) relating to financial services and health policy is a provision that extends the “Holman rule.” The Holman rule is a standing order provided in the House rules adopted in January 2017 (H Res 5). Previously, the Holman rule was in order through the first session of the 115th Congress, and the new rule introduced Monday would extend it through the second session.

The Holman rule, created in 1876 by Rep. William S. Holman, D-Ind., allows floor amendments on appropriations bills to target individual salaries or workforce levels. The rule essentially permits floor amendments that “retrench” expenditures — in other words, cut spending — using legislative language that was not previously authorized. The cuts could reduce federal salaries, compensation from the Treasury and amounts of money in individual spending bills.

The House in July considered a Holman rule amendment as part of the Republican-written omnibus measure (HR 3219). Proposed by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., the amendment would have cut a certain division of the Congressional Budget Office. It was rejected by a vote of 116-309 on July 26.

House Republicans’ decision to reinstate the rule now for the second session of the 115th Congress may signal a willingness by leadership to give rank-and-file members broader latitude to force cuts in spending bills.

But that type of procedure can be difficult for the House majority to manage because it can be used as a dilatory procedure by the minority. As House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, recalled in January 2017: “Certainly, I mean, if you go back and look how it was used  . . .  what term would you put to it, ‘abused?’ Or ‘utilized?’”

Most of the provisions that are known as the Holman rule were removed from the standing rules in 1983. House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., spoke out against reinstating the rule in April 2016 during a Rules Committee hearing.

Cole said the proposal “would significantly expand what amendments could be offered on appropriations bills” and “would diminish the roles of the authorizing committees, make them less central to the legislative process and at the same time make it harder to pass appropriations bills.”

Cole said reinstating the rule “would involve appropriations bills in more controversies and increase the number of amendments to appropriations bills, which has already exploded in recent years.”

He noted at the hearing that during the last year in which the Holman rule was in effect, 59 floor amendments had been offered to 10 appropriations bills brought to the floor. In 2015, 456 amendments were proposed on just seven bills.

AFL-CIO and Affiliated Federal Unions Oppose Closure of FLRA Regional Offices

AFL-CIO and Affiliated Federal Unions Oppose Closure of FLRA Regional Offices

In a letter to all U.S. Senators the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions representing federal employees expressed deep concern regarding the recent announcement by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) that it intends to close its regional offices in Dallas and Boston.

The letter urges Congress to prohibit the closures and position eliminations that would occur should closures happen.

See the full text of the letter below.

March 5, 2018

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the undersigned unions representing more than one million federal employees who work in virtually every Executive Branch agency across the country and around the world, we write to express our deep concern regarding the recent announcement by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) that it intends to close its regional offices in Dallas and Boston.

The FLRA plays a critical role in enforcing federal labor law through its adjudicatory and prosecutorial roles; it also trains union officers and agency officials on their rights and responsibilities under the law. The proposed reduction of critical frontline staff in the regional offices and the number of those regional offices would critically impede the FLRA’s ability to carry out its mission.

We are calling for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the impact of the proposed closures on the ability of the FLRA to carry out its mission as the law intends both nationally and in the regions that would be affected by the closures.  Until the GAO report is completed and Congress has had the opportunity to consider the impact of these proposed closures, we urge the Congress to include in the FY18 Omnibus a provision explicitly preventing the FLRA from closing the offices.

Closing two of four regional offices puts FLRA staff farther away from the parties relying on their services.  The harm is compounded by the reduction in the amount of funds allowing the staff to travel to conduct elections, representational hearings, onsite Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) investigations and other critical work that constitutes the agency’s core mission and allows its staff to build relationships with parties.

In February, Congress passed a two-year budget that increases funding to domestic agencies by $63 billion in 2018 and $68 billion in 2019.  The plan to close FLRA regional offices and eliminate other positions in FLRA headquarters was submitted before this additional funding was approved by Congress and agreed to by the President.  The additional funding over the next two years eliminates any rationale for reducing the FLRA’s resources.

For operational, mission, and budget reasons, it is clear that the FLRA’s plan to close two regional offices should not go forward.  It would undermine the agency’s ability to carry out its mission, and was devised under budgetary and policy assumptions that are no longer current or accurate.  Until the GAO is able to provide Congress with an analysis of the effect of the proposed closures, we ask that Congress prohibit the closures and position eliminations.  If you have any questions on this matter, please contact Mia Dell of AFGE’s Legislative Department at 202-639-4003 or Byron Charlton of the AFL-CIO Department of Legislation at 202-637-5290.


American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)

National Association of Government Employees

International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)

Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE)

Seafarers International Union

Federal Education Association

National Federation of Federal Employees


Notification from DoD regarding potential lapse in Appropriations.

As many of you are aware, annual funding for the government expires on January 19th. The Administration does not believe it is necessary for a lapse in funding to occur, and looks forward to working with the Congress to finalize appropriations for this year.

However, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding, and that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.

Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and patience through this process, and for all that you do for the employees of the Department of Defense and the American people.

It is expected that your local representatives may receive further information from local management. The DCPAS public website also contains useful information regarding
furlough within the DoD at: https://www.cpms.osd.mil/Subpage/FurloughGuidance/

Federal Workers Alliance Unions Urge Congress to Oppose HR 1364

Federal Workers Alliance Unions Urge Congress to Oppose HR 1364

The Federal Workers Alliance (FWA), coalition of labor unions representing more than 300,000 federal workers sent sent a letter to Congress this week urging Representatives to vote no on the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (HR1364). In all, 16 unions signed on to the letter.

The legislation aimed to withhold service credit hours towards retirement from employees who work 80 percent or more in official time duty status. It also outlaws recruitment, retention and relocation funding for the same employees.

Labor leaders believe that the bill unfairly targets the financial security of individual federal employees for their lawful service to their colleagues and their agencies.

See the full text of the letter below or download a copy here.

March 24, 2017

Dear Representative:

The undersigned unions of the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA), collectively representing more than 300,000 federal workers, urge you to VOTE NO on the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364).  This bill passed out of committee under false pretenses through a series of serious mischaracterizations about federal official time use, and what H.R. 1364 will prevent and provide.

In summary, this bill targets individual federal workers (and their families) who have done nothing more than perform the lawful duties of their jobs, under the supervision of agency management representatives.  The bill withholds service credit hours toward retirement from employees who work 80% or more in official time duty status. It also outlaws recruitment, retention and relocation funding for the same employees.

Most reprehensively, this bill retroactively denies employees their retirement service credit hours for time already worked if they retire on or after October 1, 2017.  This provision serves no purpose other than to force certain employees who perform representational work into retirement or risk losing months or years of retirement service credit hours for doing nothing other than their lawful duties.

We would like you to understand the facts about H.R. 1364 and official time:

Official time is not “union time.”  Activities such as political and internal union business are already prohibited (e.g. the Hatch Act affords no exceptions for unions).

  • Official time is used to address important workplace concerns including issues regarding safety, efficiency, mission effectiveness, employee engagement, and support to management to implement initiatives.
  • Official time is used to advise and represent federal employees on personnel matters often saving the agency time and money by avoiding costly litigation.
  • Official time is allotted through communications with agency representatives to ensure it is used carefully and in a way that benefits the workforce and the agency mission.
  • This bill cannot stand on its own merits. That is why we believe its supporters chose to fabricate problems with the official time process and then attempt to institute false solutions that will punish federal workers and their families.

Official time is a beneficial workforce practice.  H.R.1364 falsely depicts this longstanding, important workplace process as illegitimate.  The bill’s main goal is to target the financial security of individual federal employees for their lawful service to their colleagues and their agencies.

At a time when the checks and balances of the government are especially valuable and important tools, H.R. 1364 will discourage employees who wish to perform the important services  provided using official time, which has been shown to be of significant value to agencies and civil service employees and encourages transparency and accountability in government.

Again, the undersigned unions of the FWA ask you to VOTE NO on H.R. 1364, the Official Time Reform Act of 2017.

Thank you for your review of this issue and supporting this request.


American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Federal Education Association/National Education Association (FEA/NEA)
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE)
International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P)
Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO (MTD)
National Association of Government Employees, SEIU
National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE)
Overseas Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO
Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS)
Seafarers International Union/NMU (SIU)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)
SPORT Air Traffic Controllers Organization (SATCO)

The Research Is In: Public Employees Are Transforming the Workplace

New Report Highlights Innovative Labor-Management Partnerships in the Public Sector

Ori Korin, ori@jwj.org
202-393-1044 x126

Washington, D.C. – As the 2014 state legislative sessions commence, an increasing number of elected officials have declared open season on public employees and their unions. Yet examples abound of productive labor-management relations in the public sector—even in the wake of government agencies reeling from the Great Recession.

A new report released by Jobs With Justice Education Fund, “Improving Government Through Labor-Management Collaboration and Employee Ingenuity,” profiles how public employees and their unions are working collaboratively with management to improve the way government runs. From the Federal Aviation Administration to Ohio State University to the City of Phoenix, public managers at all levels of government are turning to employees for innovative solutions to vexing problems.

“The labor and management representatives featured in the report are tackling a wide range of issues, from reducing health-care costs and implementing complex new technologies to addressing policy shifts in mental health care,” said report author Erin Johansson, research director at Jobs With Justice Education Fund. “Through joint efforts, these teams are getting results—saving taxpayer money, improving the delivery of government services, and expanding training opportunities for employees. These government agencies are the antidote to those who keep demonizing public employees to score political points or privatize government services.”

Other key findings include:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration and National Air Traffic Controllers Association worked together to successfully roll out new technology at 17 of 20 air traffic control centers, saving millions of dollars in software development costs.
  • The Naval Sea Command and AFL-CIO Metal Trades Council implemented a successful system for improving productivity and reducing inefficiencies at naval shipyards.
  • Charlotte County Public Schools partnered with its unions to tackle rising healthcare costs by creating a self-funded health plan with a free clinic for employees and their families.
  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Patent Office Professional Association developed a new system for managing patent examiner time. Despite a steady increase in unexamined applications every year since 2009, examiners reduced the backlog of applications by 20 percent between 2009 and 2013.
  • The State of Michigan and the United Auto Workers Local 6000 adapted efficiency techniques from lean-manufacturing auto plants to reduce lobby wait times for social services clients from over three hours to just 30 minutes.
  • The Cleveland Public Library and Service Employees International Union District 1199 developed a system for transferring library employees to avoid layoffs and maintain library hours during a recent budget crisis.
  • The City of Phoenix worked with a coalition of unions to create an Innovation and Efficiency Task Force, which has saved the city nearly $60 million annually since it began in 2009.
  • Ohio State University partnered with the Communications Workers of America Local 4501 to encourage employee participation in a wellness program, which led to a quadrupling of union member participation.
  • Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions, a union representing Colorado state mental health employees, is convening state and community representatives to proactively address changes to the provision of mental health care.

Interviews with the report’s author as well as several of the unions and employers profiled in the study are available upon request. To view the full report, please click here: http://www.jwj.org/lmp.

Skip to toolbar