The Senate confirmed Gene Dodaro as comptroller general at the Government Accountability Office. (Jim Watson / Agence France-Presse)
Congress' last-minute votes before adjourning this week included a number of actions — or inactions — of interest to federal employees:
• The Senate confirmed Gene Dodaro as comptroller general at the Government Accountability Office. A 37-year GAO veteran, Dodaro had held the job on an acting basis since March 2008. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said that she hopes Dodaro will look for specific ways to hold the government more accountable.
• The Whistleblower Protection Act — intended to expand employees' whistleblower protections — failed. The Senate had approved the bill, S 372, on Dec. 10, but it was required to vote on it again after the House approved it with revisions. The bill was blocked by an anonymous hold as time expired in the session.
• The Food Safety Modernization Act, S 510, was approved by a final House vote and awaits the president's signature. It gives Food and Drug Administration broader authority to issue food recalls, force supermarkets to warn its customers about food recalls and to increase inspections of high risk fruits and vegetables.
• The Senate confirmed three commissioners for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Chair Jacqueline Berrien and Commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic had already been serving through recess appointments.
In a news conference Wednesday, President Obama said the lame-duck session — where actions included approval of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia and the lifting of a ban on gays in the military — capped off two years of impressive legislative victories.
"I think it's fair to say this has been the most productive post-election period we've had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years we've had in generations," Obama said.