WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed H.R. 313, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015. Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on National Security, introduced the bill on January 13, 2015. This bipartisan legislation would provide federal employees, who are also disabled veterans, with 104 hours of “Wounded Warrior leave” during their first year in the federal workforce so that they may seek medical treatment for their service-connected disabilities without being forced to take unpaid leave or forego their appointments altogether.
“I am very pleased that H.R. 313 was passed out of committee on a bipartisan basis and I look forward to swift passage of this legislation on the House floor,” said Congressman Lynch. “I thank Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Congressman Farenthold for recognizing the value of this legislation and including it in the first markup of the new Congress for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It is an important demonstration of meaningful bipartisanship and emphasizes the Committee’s commitment to the dedicated wounded warriors serving in our federal workforce.”
Newly hired federal employees begin their federal government careers with a zero sick leave balance. As a result, disabled veterans who have recently entered the federal workforce do not have sufficient sick leave to attend medical appointments to treat their service-connected disabilities on a regular basis. Many veterans are returning from multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and other health issues. Congressman Lynch introduced H.R. 313 to address the concerns raised by many veterans regarding the substantial burden placed on Wounded Warriors in the federal workforce who have to skip appointments, rather than miss work.
“Our disabled veterans are faced with a significant burden as they enter the federal workforce. The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 provides vital federal leave for our heroic and devoted wounded warriors so that they are able to take the time they need to address their disabilities, while continuing their much appreciated service to our country,” added Congressman Lynch.
H.R. 313 has received endorsements from a number of federal employee and veterans’ organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the Federal Managers Association (FMA), the American Federation of Government Employees, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and the National Treasury Employees Union. It is also strongly supported by the Federal-Postal Coalition, an organization representing nearly 5 million federal and postal workers and annuitants.
H.R. 313 is cosponsored by Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced S. 242, the Senate companion bill, on January 22, 2015. Congressman Lynch first introduced the legislation in the 113th Congress and it was reported favorably to the House by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 17, 2014.