House passes bill to end COVID telework policies for federal agencies

by sam

Samuel Case, FISM News


House Republicans passed a bill on Wednesday that would end COVID-19 telework policies for executive agencies, as the Biden administration prepares to end the national emergency.

The Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems or SHOW UP Act passed 221 to 206. Three Democrats voted with the Republicans. One Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), voted against the bill. 

Currently, more than 1 million federal employees work remotely, according to a CBS News review of government records — a massive increase from 2018 when the government saw approximately 483,000 telework employees. 

The legislation would give executive agencies 30 days to “reinstate and apply the telework policies, practices, and levels of the agency as in effect on December 31, 2019.” 

“We’re not saying no one can telework,” said House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky). “We just want those levels back to what they were before COVID. Because we believe there are a lot of federal employees who have taken advantage of the situation.”

Comer, who sponsored the bill, said it “offers a much-needed solution to this problem of federal agencies and federal employees putting their own comfort before our constituents’ needs.”

Critics of the bill argue telework has been a net benefit for both federal employees and the public.

“Telework has strengthened private and public workplaces across the land, enhanced productivity, increased efficiency, improved the morale and satisfaction of the workforce, reduced traffic congestion, and made positive environmental changes,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) argued.

“When the chairman says it’s time to return to work, I believe this is a misnomer because people who participate in telework are working. They’re already working, and so they don’t need to return to work,” he added.

The bill is not expected to be taken up in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The move by the House comes as the Biden administration announced Monday the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency will officially expire on May 11.