After spending a month in their districts, lawmakers this week return to muggy Washington to pick up legislation where they left off. Among the matters awaiting their attention:
- The finalization of an across-the-board 3.5 percent pay raise for federal employees. The raise has been given final approval in both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee as part of the financial services and general government spending bill, but awaits action on the Senate floor. Aides to Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., chairman of the appropriations committee, said they are committed to bringing that measure to the floor before the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1.
- The military construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill. The Senate will likely spend its first days examining the $64.7 billion bill, the only one President Bush has not threatened to veto. A similar bill was given final approval by the House in June.
- The confirmation of former Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. Nussle’s nomination was approved by the Senate Budget committee in the final hours before the summer recess and is expected to pass easily on the floor.
- The overhaul of the Inspectors General system. A House committee gave its final approval in early August to a bill that would set seven-year term limits for IGs and create a Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency by merging two existing IG councils. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Susan Collins, R-Maine are working on a similar bill to incorporate the changes included in the House bill with others, including IG pay reform.
- The Senate Defense Authorization bill, which includes a provision that requires the Pentagon to preserve collective bargaining rights for its employees. The National Security Personnel System currently would curtail collective bargaining rights for its employees.