GOP budget plan gets thumbs-up from House panel

The Republican budget proposal that aims to extend the current federal pay freeze through 2015 and cut the workforce by 10 percent is one step closer to becoming reality.

The plan, released March 20 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), was approved by the House Budget Committee by a narrow margin -- 19 to 18  -- and is now headed for a vote on the House floor.

Titled the Path to Prosperity, the plan counters the Obama administration's budget request unveiled in February, which would end the pay freeze and bump up the salaries of civilian federal employees by a modest 0.5 percent.

In addition to cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next three years, Ryan’s blueprint also calls for federal employees to make a higher contribution to their retirement plans. It would also target hundreds of federal programs “that have outlived their usefulness” in an effort to streamline government agencies, the proposal said.  

After its release, the plan quickly drew criticism from federal union leaders to top government officials. Colleen Kelly, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, called the $368 billion in cuts to federal employees’ compensation to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy “unconscionable.” 

“Our civil service is one of the best in the world,” she wrote in a March 21 letter to members of the House Budget Committee. “Such a civil service will not survive if these cuts are instituted.”

Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that Obama has already signed into law cuts that bring nonsecurity spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower served as president. In a March 21 blog post,  he further argued that this category of spending would be reduced as a share of economy by 50 percent from 2010 to 2022 under Obama's plan.

“But when it comes to annual, non-defense spending, the House Budget Resolution is not about cutting fat,” Zients commented. “It is cutting deep into the muscle that America needs to compete and win in the 21st century.”

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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