This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) that would allow funding provided by Defense Department spending bill to be used to convert jobs held by federal government employees to private, federally contracted positions. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding Defense Department programs.
Specifically, the underlying Defense bill prohibited the Defense Department from converting jobs held by federal government employees to private, contracted positions unless a report (known as a “A-76 review”) determined that such a conversion would save the federal government at least $10 million. Amash’s amendment would have eliminated this prohibition.
Amash urged support for his amendment: “Independent studies have found that public-private competitions lower costs by between 10 and 40 percent regardless of whether the competition is won by a private contractor or the government. Rather than stand in the way of public-private competitions, Congress should cut the red tape and make the use of this cost-saving process easier, not harder….Instead of complicating the use of competitions that improve service and lower costs, we should be encouraging agencies to find the most efficient way to deliver services. This amendment will send that message by reducing restrictions on the Department of Defense and by making it easier to achieve reforms that will increase the availability of cost-saving competitions throughout the department.”
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) opposed Amash’s amendment: “Requiring the DOD [Department of Defense] to actually conduct this analysis under the A-76 review is reasonable and should be included in this bill, so I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment. I must say we have done these A-76 reviews across the country, and many times we find that the government entity reorganizes itself and can actually do the work at a lesser cost than the private sector. And the other problem with this whole thing is, once the private sector gets it, the costs go right through the roof. So you need to have an analysis done after contracting out is done to make sure that you're not getting ripped off. So I strongly oppose the gentleman's amendment.”
The House agreed to Amash’s amendment by a vote of 212-208. Voting “yea” were 212 Republicans. All 186 Democrats present and 22 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would allow funding provided by a Defense Department spending bill to be used to convert jobs held by federal government employees to private, federally contracted positions regardless of whether such a conversion would save the federal government at least $10 million. In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president. At the time this vote occurred, the Senate had not yet acted on the amendment.