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House Republicans Back Bill Calling Federal Employees Back To The Office

Leaders of the GOP have joined Elon Musk, Bob Iger and other high-profile company executives in demanding workers return to the office.

House Republicans introduced a bill that, if passed, would force government agencies to re-enact pre-pandemic telework policies and practices. The SHOW Up Act, shorthand for Stopping Home Office Work's Unproductive Problems, would give employees who worked in offices before Dec. 31, 2019, 30 days to return to their desks, according to Federal News Network.

The move would have sweeping implications for the office market. The federal government leases millions of square feet, producing $5.7B in yearly rent, per GlobeSt. It also owns thousands of office buildings.

The General Services Administration headquarters Building's E Street facade

Most of the 24 federal agencies surveyed by the Government Accountability Office said they intend to shed some of their office space over the next three years, but the pandemic-induced rise of remote and hybrid work simply accelerated existing plans to cut back.

Since 2011, the total amount of office space leased by the federal government has declined by roughly 20M SF, according to a September report from the GAO.

Despite a 2021 directive issued by the Office of Personnel Management instructing federal agencies to consider the incorporation of telework, only 525K SF of the government’s 238M SF leased portfolio had been reduced as of November.

Whether the GOP’s bill has any teeth has been called into question by some critics, especially since it lacks any context surrounding the purpose of the move. 

Leaders of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, the group behind the bill, said the expansion of remote work is to blame for delays and backlogs at several agencies, including the the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State Department, Federal News Network reported.

Passage of the bill is unlikely given the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is largely in favor of telework. But Republicans could push the measure into law by working it into the budget or by leveraging it as a bargaining chip in debt ceiling negotiations, per GlobeSt.

Related Topics: Elon Musk, Bob Iger, SHOW UP Act