This was a vote on final passage of legislation requiring federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute (work from home).
The bill would also have required those agencies to designate an official to supervise telecommuting programs for federal employees. The House first passed this “telework” bill on July 14, 2010, after Republicans successfully amended the measure to prohibit federal employees from engaging in union or collective bargaining activities while telecommuting. The Senate then took up that bill, and removed the anti-union language before passing the measure. This vote was on final passage of the Senate-passed legislation (which did not include the restriction on union activities).
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) urged support for the measure: “…Despite the evolving nature of the way the Federal Government conducts its affairs, telework, which allows an employee to regularly perform work in a remote location, continues to be woefully underutilized by federal agencies. Private and public sector employers that offer telework consistently experience increased productivity and retention rates, thereby lowering an employer's operating costs….Given that the federal government owns or leases over 8,600 individual buildings and spends upwards of $500 billion as a landlord annually, this legislation will translate into real-world savings in the near future.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) urged support for the bill: “Telework is an important and cost-effective component of efforts to reduce congestion, greenhouse gas pollution, and smog….Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would lead to a reduction in ground level ozone in our region, which is critically important to protect the health of our region's seniors and other residents suffering from respiratory ailments or asthma.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) argued the bill would not guard against abuse of telecommuting policies: “This bill lacks the safeguard so that somebody can basically take a Blackberry and a notebook, disappear forever and be almost unaccountable as to whether they ever did any of their core work while doing their union organizing and running activity. That's not in the best interest of the taxpayers. It's not what the last election was about.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) criticized the Democratic majority for bringing up the bill without the anti-union language: “How will we obtain the trust of the American people who are struggling every day in this economy if we allow Federal employees to participate in union activities while on official time, give them benefits when they're delinquent on their taxes, and increase spending in Federal agencies trying to make this flawed teleworking system work?”
The House passed the telecommuting bill by a vote of 254-142. 240 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted “yea.” 149 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation requiring federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute – thus clearing the bill for President Obama’s signature.