WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) lauded key provisions in the final Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package that improve compensation and working conditions for federal employees and enable critical maintenance projects at federal facilities in Maryland.
“There are more than 2 million federal employees across the United States who devote their lives to serving the public, whether by caring for our veterans, providing health guidance to keep us safe during this global health crisis, or providing critical lifelines for our seniors,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “These women and men ought to be thanked and rewarded for their contributions to our country, not undermined and scapegoated like they have been at the hands of the Trump administration. That’s why it was one of my top priorities this year to ensure that federal employees and agencies get the support they deserve.”
Budget decisions for FY 2021 included a number of successes for the federal workforce. Congress eliminated the threat of a federal government shutdown by passing crucial spending packages that sets priorities and funds the federal government through the fiscal year. Additionally, the FY 2021 appropriations package embraces the following of Senator Cardin’s objectives for federal employees.
- 1 PERCENT PAY INCREASE: President Trump attempted to freeze federal salaries for the upcoming year, but was pressured to include a 1 percent pay increase in his budget request. Unfortunately, that fell short of the 3 percent pay increase on tap for the military. Senator Cardin has been a long-time advocate for civilian-military parity and is determined to restore civilian-military equity under President-elect Joseph Biden’s administration.
- EXTENSION OF REPAYMENT PERIOD FOR DEFERRED PAYROLL TAXES: Senator Cardin strongly objected to President Trump’s 4-month payroll tax deferral for federal employees and service members, which must be repaid in calendar year 2021. The omnibus appropriations bill extends the repayment period from 4 months to 12, spreading the repayment over 26 pay periods instead of eight.
This year, Senator Cardin also fought for necessary increases in funding for several Maryland-based federal agencies to maintain and improve their facilities in order to achieve their missions. The following of his funding requests for federal facilities were fulfilled in FY 2021 appropriations:
- NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: After a 2019 study found that a majority of the facilities on our nation’s preeminent medical research campus are in poor condition, Senator Cardin led a letter from the Maryland congressional delegation to Senate and House Appropriators in support of increasing funding to meet the $1.3 billion in NIH facilities needs on the Bethesda campus. The appropriations package provides $425 million for this purpose, which constitutes a $225 million increase from last year and requires the NIH to institute a plan to address future building and facilities issues.
- FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: Working with Montgomery County leadership, Senator Cardin urged the Appropriations Committee to continue efforts to help the FDA consolidate its White Oak campus. The appropriations package provides $52.944 million for the FDA White Oak Campus Consolidation project.
- COAST GUARD YARD: The Coast Guard’s In-Service Vessel Sustainment program, which repairs and rehabilitates aging Coast Guard vessels, was fully funded at $82.6 million under this omnibus package. This will provide work for the Baltimore-based Coast Guard Yard employees.
- FBI HEADQUARTERS: This omnibus appropriations bill rejects President Trump’s request to rescind more than $150 million in previously appropriated funding for the FBI Headquarters project and instead requires the General Services Administration to provide a plan to Congress within 90 days for a consolidated Headquarters in the National Capital Region. Working together with the incoming Biden administration and the $1.2 billion in previously secured funding, we will restart this long-overdue project and urge full consideration of Prince George’s County as an ideal site for the consolidated FBI Headquarters.
- GSA MAJOR REPAIRS AND ALTERATIONS: The omnibus provided $203.9 million for the GSA Major Repairs and Alterations account. This funds large renovations of federal facilities in Maryland, and will be used to support $49.4 million to upgrade the the Suitland Federal Center in Prince George’s County to accommodate the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the $208.7 million in needed repairs for the Social Security Administration Woodlawn Campus facilities in Baltimore County.
- DHS/FBI: Senator Cardin has been at the forefront of ensuring ongoing funding and support for DHS/FBI National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC), a unique lab that supports federal law enforcement investigations and identifies biological threats. In 2020, this lab has conducted groundbreaking research into the spread of COVID-19. The package provides at least $67.916 million for the Fort Detrick-based NBACC.
- DEFENSE HEALTH FACILITIES: The appropriations package includes $80 million for Phase IV of a Medical Center Addition at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda and $130 million for the expansion of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Frederick.
- JOINT BASE ANDREWS: $9.4 million is included for an F-16 mission training facility at Andrews Air Force Base. This training facility will allow Joint Base Andrews Air National Guard to compete for newer air platforms to protect the National Capital Region.
“I am very proud of the wins we secured this year for federal workers and agencies, but there is still much work to be done,” Said Senator Cardin. “Among other things, we must regain the trust of the federal civilian employee workforce, as well as restart and bring home to Prince George’s County the FBI Headquarters project. I look forward to continuing the fight for America’s public servants in 2021.”