Feb. 6, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Campus Notebook: No Money for Dome Fix in Spending Measure

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
"If the House wants the Dome to fall in, I hope it falls on their side," said Sen. Ben Nelson, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

"In order to ensure that the CR was 'clean' as possible, many important funding items had to be left out. This is exactly why it's essential to pass regular Appropriations bills," said Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Republicans, regarding the decision not to include the money despite the Senate's request.

"The Dome project will go forward and will not be significantly affected by a six-month delay in appropriated funding," Hing continued. "In fact, the first phase of the project is still under way, and the AOC has been instructed to make preparations and begin the initial administrative process for the next phase."

House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch ranking member Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said that while the Dome "shouldn't be a partisan issue . the original schedule didn't have the AOC starting until February, so we don't foresee a major disruption in the timeline with a six-month [continuing resolution]."

Some parties, however, are bitter about House Republican appropriators' position.

"Republicans like to wave flags, but the bottom line is we have an 18-million-pound structure teetering over the Congress and tourists, and the Republican leadership is refusing to lift a finger," a senior Democratic aide said.

Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith insisted that the Speaker is "fully committed to repairing the Capitol Dome."

Capitol Police Negotiations Continue

Capitol Police officers will have to hold their breath a little bit longer to see whether management will begin enforcing controversial policy proposals such as a ban on visible tattoos or changes to how Family and Medical Leave Act requests are processed.

Months after the Capitol Police Labor Committee compelled top brass to put the breaks on implementing more than 1,000 pages of new policy directives they say were handed down without union input, stakeholders continue to search for common ground in a process that could take months more.

In some respects, it's a good thing negotiations are taking so long: Acting Police Chief Tom Reynolds is being receptive to the union's concerns and showing willingness to cooperate.

"We have made significant progress and are reaching closure in a unified fashion to produce a professional written directive system," Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider emphasized.

But the long and cumbersome process also speaks to the challenges that loom ahead for reaching consensus. Outstanding disagreements could lead to a formal complaint with the Office of Compliance - the first step for most legislative branch agencies in filing a lawsuit.

Labor Committee President Jim Konczos explained negotiations began with union representatives and their attorney reviewing 117 policy proposals line by line, making recommendations and marking their concerns when relevant. They handed back their input to management.

But to make the process more manageable going forward, Reynolds and his team are negotiating out the directives in three groupings. Once all of the directives in each grouping are agreed to, that grouping will go into immediate implementation.

So far, the first grouping of 67 directives have gone into effect. The second grouping is still at a standstill, however, as Konczos said he and his team are working with Reynolds to modify five policy proposals out of 34.

The union has not yet begun negotiations on the remaining 16 directives.

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