House Passes Legislation to Protect the Merit Systems Protection Board
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 26, 2019)—Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, issued the following statements after the House passed legislation to prevent the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) from having no members when the current and sole Board member’s term expires on March 1, 2019.
H.R. 1235, the MSPB Temporary Term Extension Act, as amended, would provide a one-time, one-year extension of the current member’s term. The bill passed by voice vote and now moves to the Senate where its consideration remains uncertain.
“The House voted to keep the lights on and a senior official in charge at MSPB, the agency that ensures a professional, non-partisan civil service,” said Chairman Cummings.
“Now the ball is in the Senate’s court to show the same commitment. I want to thank Chairman Cummings and House leadership for bringing H.R. 1235, the MSPB Temporary Term Extension Act, so quickly to the floor,” said Chairman Connolly. “Our bill seeks to prevent a potential crisis at the Merit Systems Protection Board—a vacant Board without any Members. MSPB protects whistleblowers from retaliation, veterans from job discrimination, and federal employees from prohibited personnel practices and Congress must ensure that MSPB can continue operations.”
The MSPB is an independent agency led by three presidentially-appointed Board members that serves as the guardian of the federal merit system. Currently, the sole Board member is Mark Robbins, a Republican who was confirmed by the Senate in 2012. Robbins’ seven-year term expired on March 1, 2018, but he continues to serve in a holdover capacity which is currently limited by statute to one year.
In 2018, President Trump nominated three candidates for the MSPB—two Republicans and one Democrat—but they were not confirmed by the Senate before the end of the last Congress.
In January 2019, President Trump renominated the three candidates, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently cleared two of them. The third withdrew his name from consideration. However, these two nominations will not be considered until the White House names another Republican nominee.