Congress turns attention to 2014 budget

U.S. Capitol at Night

Working at lightning speed by legislative standards, Congress locked in a continuing resolution to fund government activities for the second half of fiscal 2013, including appropriations for several government departments including Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Commerce and Agriculture. The Senate passed the measure in the late afternoon of March 20, and the House followed suit the next day.

Before the ink was dry on the CR, the Senate opened debate on a budget for fiscal year 2014 that raises almost $1 trillion in new revenue through 2023, and the House passed the latest version of a much more austere budget from Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that lowers taxes and achieves deficit reduction through cuts in government programs. As of this writing, the Senate is in the midst of a marathon session leading to a possible budget vote before the chamber breaks for Easter recess.


House bill:

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Senate bill:

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As has been widely reported, the Senate and House budgets are dramatically different in their approach to taxes and federal spending. Less discussed is the fact that both seek substantial savings from streamlining government operations. Both Ryan and Senate budget committee chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) give approving nods to the recommendations of U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro with regard to government spending reform. Both documents also cite the General Accountability Office annual report on improper payments and wasteful and duplicative government spending as a guide to achieving savings in government operations. The House legislation estimates that about $20 billion of the government’s $80 billion annual Information Technology budget could be saved by eliminating waste and overlapping spending.

The House is more ambitious in its attempts to reduce the federal workforce, and blunter in its language about the perks of government employment. The Ryan budget promises a 10 percent reduction through “gradual, sensible attrition” in the federal workforce – a plan that reflects, “growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees.” The Senate takes a more consoling tone toward federal workers, but despite the gentle language, it seeks savings from aligning compensation between federal personnel and contractors.

These could be prime areas for discussion if the Senate passes its version of the budget and the legislative chambers attempt to hammer out their differences in a conference committee – although any compromise plan is a longshot at best. As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Politico, “It’s no secret that the House and Senate budget will never reconcile.”

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Mon, Mar 25, 2013

Much ado about nothing!

Mon, Mar 25, 2013

Congressional version of CSRS retirement is paid out at 2.5 % per year of service from the 1st year with no minimum nuber of years, Fed CSRS employees get 2% per year (minus 4%) with some different minimum time in services requirements. If I'm not mistaken congress also gets to claim their SS contributions. I contributed nearly the 40 quarters already, but have 30+ years under CSRS, so I can't get SS (without some reductions). They still are using CBO's rating for Federal worker getting 16% more than average US workers. A similarly flawed comparison would be to say congress is paid more than twice (175k vs 76k) what the average Federal worker makes... CBO need to deal with that in an "official report" too.

Mon, Mar 25, 2013

A 'growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees.'? Did Ryan considering the changes in the past 4-5 years when deeming Federal workers as still 'privileged'? Loss of raises, the high percentage increase in medical insurance premiums and co-payments, the attrition (Yes, it's already happening. Nothing new), the reduction of allowed untaxed FSA contributions and removal of various employee-programs. As far the comment about 'aligning compensation between federal personnel and contractors',.. The Government is not a private business. It's suppose to provide required services to the public without a profit. Companies that provide contract employees to the Government are for-profit. It has been my 20+ years experience that what the Government pays for contract employees is rarely comparable to what the individual contract employees actually receive. So, in 'trickle-down' economics, the companies profit and are expected to 'spread-the-wealth' to their employees. That doesn't seem to be happening. Is Ryan suggesting Federal agencies and workers can have the same relationship but with some restrictions. Such as, the Federal agencies will not profit or 'spread-the-wealth', Just that Federal workers continue to receive less and less?

Mon, Mar 25, 2013

Our congress seems to be so worried about "perks of Government employment"; are they worried about their "perks" which are many more the Governments employees? They are paid with tax dollars, so they should also be included in any cuts, etc. Does anyone agree with me?

Mon, Mar 25, 2013

If only the general public knew how lavish public state employees have it. They have a retirement system similar to the one the feds ditched back in 1983. They don't pay into social security, but replace up to 90% of their high 3 years. That says that with no savings, they can maintain the highest standard of living they ever attained for the rest of thie life without needing another job. I mean wow! And they don't help the social security system. If the fed employee can't get away with this, how can state employees?

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