October 10, 2014
Both the House and Senate were in recess this week.
Federal Contractor Minimum Wage Final Rule
The Department of Labor released a final rule today on raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to at least $10.10/hour starting January 1, 2015. The regulation follows the Executive Order President Obama released back in February. The minimum wage will apply to most construction, service, concession, and federal property contracts signed on or after Jan 1, 2015. Workers who spend less than 20% of their time on a contract in a given work week are excluded from the new minimum wage as are students, apprentices, and employees paid with grants. Those who work more than 20 percent are only required to receive at least $10.10 per hour for the time they spend working on the contract. Contractors are required to apply the executive order to their subcontractors, and are responsible for notifying all of their employees of the minimum wage to which they are entitled. The Secretary of Labor can reset the minimum wage for contractors every year, but must publish the new wage 90 days before it takes effect. A copy of the final rule can be found at:
Defense Reprogramming Request
The Department of Defense submitted a $1 billion reprogramming proposal to Congress to pay for sending up to 4,000 troops to Africa in a mission to help fight Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak. The House Appropriations and Armed Services Committee chairmen signed off on an additional $700 million this week permitting a total of $750 million in funds leftover for fighting in Afghanistan to be used for this mission. The first $50 million was released last month. The $750 million is expected to cover a six-month mission that includes airlifting personnel, medical supplies, protective suits and equipment such as tents to house Ebola victims and isolate people exposed to the virus. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, initially put a hold on the reprogramming request demanding more details about the military’s plans to keep US soldiers from contracting Ebola. Today he lifted that hold after receiving specifics from the Pentagon on the protocol to protect troops in the region. Senate Democrats and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee agreed to the request earlier.
Defense Acquisition Reform
The New Democrat Coalition this week released a set of recommendations for overhauling the Department of Defense’s acquisition system. The Coalition submitted a list of acquisition reform proposals to House Armed Services Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and ranking Democrat Adam Smith (D-WA), who are leading a long-term acquisition reform project. The Coalition’s task force was led by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ron Barber (D-AZ), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI). Their recommendations include cutting down on audits, streamlining regulations, and exploring the possibility of expanding the acquisition workforce and increasing its pay.
A copy of the Coalition’s recommendations can be found at:
And a copy of their letter to Reps. Thornberry and Smith can be found at:
Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson announced this week his recommendation for removing Susan Taylor, the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer (DCPO) in the Veterans Health Administration Procurement & Logistics Office. Sloan’s recommendation follows an investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General in which allegations of multiple ethics violations related to her work with the private reverse auction firm FedBid were substantiated. Taylor was given five days to respond to the recommendation for her removal. In the meantime, Ricky Lemmon, Director, Service Area Office Central, has been designated Acting Deputy Procurement and Logistics Officer.
President Obama renominated Michael O’Rielly as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission. O’Rielly is currently a Commissioner, a position he has held since November 2013. Prior to this, he was a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip led by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in 2013 and by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) from 2010 to 2012. He has also worked for the Republican Policy Committee, Senator John Sununu (R-NH), the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the US House of Representatives, and Representative Tom Bliley (R-VA).
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was formally sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy today. Sherwood-Randall replaces Dan Poneman.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia released a decision this week declaring Virginia’s congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district. The 3rd Congressional District in Virginia is currently represented by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). The existing map will remain in effect for the 2014 elections, but the state legislature must redraw the map by April 1, 2015. Currently Democrats control only three of the state’s 11 districts, and just one seat is truly competitive – only as a result of the retirement of GOP Rep. Frank Wolf. If the decision is not appealed and the districts are redrawn, the new map could have an impact on several Republican districts in the state making them competitive for Democrats, especially the district currently represented by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).
The House and Senate are in recess until November 12.