With Congress considering so many ways to make the lives of federal employees more difficult, even small, symbolic efforts to recognize them  are notable — even when they’re dead.

 The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has approved legislation that would allow agencies to present an American flag to the families of federal employees who are killed while on duty or because of their status as a government employee.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, said he was pleased the panel considered the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011 “especially since [federal workers] received so much negative attention and criticism recently for simply doing their jobs.”

 The bill stands in contrast to unrelated proposals that would extend the federal pay freeze, make employees pay more for health and retirement benefits, cut the federal workforce and allow workers to be fired if they were seriously behind on their federal taxes.

Cummings said that many people probably don’t realize that since 2001, “over 35,000 federal civilian employees have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat-related zones in support of ongoing military missions, political and economic development efforts and state reconstruction projects. Given the risk posed by some of these assignments, I think it’s only fitting that employees who lose their lives in performance of their official duties be furnished and presented with a U.S. flag in the same manner as a flag bestowed upon a deceased member of the armed services.”

The Office of Personnel Management said it does not have the number of employees who were killed on duty or because of their employment status.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), was approved by voice vote and sent to the full House for consideration.

“I strongly support this bipartisan legislation,” said Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).


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