Super committee lacks federal worker issue experience

It may sound hopeful to have a super committee working on the budget crisis, but does it bode well for federal employees?

The workforce has been the target of budget-cutting efforts all year, some implemented and others merely proposed. Now the super committee, the product of the recent compromise on the debt ceiling debate, has orders to trim $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade -- and is largely made up of lawmakers with little experience in issues that affect the workforce, according the Washington Post blog Federal Eye. In fact, none of the members have sponsored a bill addressing federal employees during this congressional session, the article said.

The federal employee experience of the 12-member congressional super committee, charged with identifying trillions to trim from the federal deficit, ranges from “fairly thin to virtually nonexistent,” writes Eric Yoder on the blog.

The only beacon of light appears to be the appointment of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), whose suburban district is laden with federal employees and is accustomed to fighting on their behalf.

And while another committee member, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), does sit on two committees that deal with employee issues, he is not particularly active on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, according to Federal Eye.

Since under the super committee structure everything is on the table, federal pay, benefits and jobs are at risk during the second phase of the debt ceiling negotiations and most agree that workers will have to sacrifice more than the two-year pay freeze, writes Kellie Lunney on Government Executive. Undoubtedly, federal contractors will be affected as well.

Now the super committee has until November to produce a plan. If it doesn't meet that deadline and produce a plan that gets Congressional approval, automatic spending cuts will kick in in January 2013. 

Confidence in the committee is lacking, according to a recent FedSmith survey on the debt ceiling debate.

According to the survey, 91.9 percent of federal employees believe that the debt ceiling debate will reduce their benefits and income. Another 83.3 percent of those surveyed did not have confidence that the government will fully fund the federal retirement plans now and in the future.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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