A House hearing on the future of federal work became unexpectedly tense on Thursday after a Republican lawmaker blasted a witness for not providing him with a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
During the hearing, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) asked Office of Personnel Management director Kiran A. Ahuja, a Biden appointee, whether any federal workers had continued to receive cost of living compensation after relocating to another area.
“Thank you, congressman, for the question,” Ahuja replied. “So if an employee moves out of a particular area, or adjusts and actually takes on a remote work arrangement, then their duty location changes according to our guidance and they take on the locality pay of that particular area.”
“So you’re telling us then – I’m going to extrapolate from that,” Biggs replied. “You’re saying no, nobody with the DC duty station has relocated to another area outside of DC duty station is receiving DC duty cost of living.”
Ahuja said that she was “talking generally,” which appeared to set off Biggs.
“I’m not talking generally,” he fired back. “I’m talking specifically. That’s the problem with your answers today. They’ve been generic, 30,000 foot, when people have asked you specific questions, I get an ethereal answer. I have a specific question. It is a yes or no question.”
Biggs complained that he didn’t know what the answer to his question was, and Ahuja then apologized and started to say she was trying to provide the “general sense” of the situation. But Biggs cut her off.
“I have the general sense,” Biggs said. “I’m not an idiot!”
The hearing sought “to examine the necessary actions to recruit and retain top talent in the federal government and to rebuild, strengthen, and transform the federal workforce to meet the needs of the country in the 21st century,” according to a statement posted on the website for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations.
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