Veterans Hired by the FAA Are One Step Closer to Receiving New Paid Sick Leave Benefits Under Larsen’s Bill

Sep 21, 2016 Issues: 114th Congress Accomplishments, Fighting for Workers, Health Care, Jobs Labor and the Economy, Social Services, Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) today took to the House floor to advocate passage of the bipartisan FAA Veteran Transition Improvement Act, legislation that aims to expand paid sick leave benefits recently made available by the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 to veterans hired by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The bill, which Larsen introduced earlier this month with Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), was unanimously reported out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week. Following Larsen’s floor speech today, the House unanimously approved the legislation, which now awaits action in the Senate.

“Last November, after passing the House and Senate by unanimous consent, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act was signed into law. That legislation recognizes that no one who has sustained an injury due to military service should have to choose between earning a paycheck and receiving healthcare,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The FAA Veteran Transition Improvement Act will help ensure that no newly hired disabled veteran FAA employee is faced with that choice and help finish the laudable work that was started by the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act.”

The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 made up to 104 hours of paid sick leave available to most newly hired veteran federal employees with service-connected conditions rated as 30 percent or more disabled for the purposes of attending medical treatment related to these conditions. However, veterans hired by the FAA are ineligible for these new benefits.

Larsen and LoBiondo’s bill would require the FAA to prescribe policy and procedures that ensure disabled veterans have access to the new disabled veteran sick leave benefits that their counterparts in other agencies receive.

Between 2012 and 2016, the FAA hired between 150-350 veterans with a 30 percent or more disability rating each year. Currently, there are more than 650 veterans in Washington state and 15,500 veterans nationally who work for the FAA.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Federal Managers Association, FAA Managers Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, American Federation of Government Employees, American Legion, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America all support this legislation. 

Prepared text of Larsen’s floor speech is below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5957, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Veteran Transition Improvement Act of 2016.

Last November, after passing the House and Senate by unanimous consent, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act was signed into law.

That legislation recognizes that no one who has sustained an injury due to military service should have to choose between earning a paycheck and receiving healthcare.

Specifically, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act provides up to 104 hours of up-front, disabled veteran leave during an employee’s first 12 months on the job.

The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act will apply to anyone hired on, or after November 5th of this year.

However, that legislation only applies to federal civilian personnel covered under Title 5 leave provisions.

Consequently, those not covered under Title 5 – including employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – are not able to use these leave benefits.

In my home state of Washington, there are more than 650 veterans who work at the FAA and across the country more than 15,500 veterans work for the FAA.

From 2012 to 2016, the FAA hired between 150-350 veterans each year – men and women who have served our country but may be unable to get the healthcare they need.

In an effort to expand these benefits to disabled veterans hired by the FAA, earlier this month Representative LoBiondo joined me in introducing this bipartisan bill.

H.R. 5957 will ensure that newly hired disabled veteran FAA employees receive the same up-front disabled leave that personnel at other government agencies will receive.

This legislation will help ensure that no newly hired disabled veteran FAA employee is faced with the choice between earning a paycheck and receiving healthcare, and finishes the laudable work that was started by the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act.

I would like to thank all of the advocacy organizations who support this legislation, including:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW);

The American Legion;

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA);

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE);

Federal Managers Association;

FAA Managers Association;

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS);

General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); and

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)

I would also like to thank Representative LoBiondo for working with me on this important legislation. and I ask for your support as well.

And lastly, I would like to recognize Senator Hirono who has introduced companion legislation and I look forward to continue working to move this important bill past the finish line.

Last week, this bipartisan bill was unanimously reported out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and today and I ask for your support as well.

With that, I yield back Mr. Speaker.

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