Workforce

9 GOP reps oppose cuts to federal retirement system

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Nine House Republicans have come out against cuts targeting federal employees and retirees in President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget. In a June 17 letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the lawmakers expressed concerns over rollbacks of retirement benefits.

The letter states that the proposals "break a promise to employees and retirees who have based career planning on longstanding promised benefit calculations." The budget proposals that lawmakers hit include a hike in the amount federal employees are required to pay toward retirement, the elimination of cost-of living adjustment for individuals in the Federal Employee Retirement System and basing federal pensions on the average of the highest five years of salary rather than the highest three.

"These proposals would make it even harder to attract and retain the best and brightest into the civil service," the letter states. Since 2010, federal workers have missed out on $182 billion due to pay freezes, lower cost-of-living adjustments and increased contributions to federal retirement programs and furloughs, the letter notes.

The House members also noted that an estimated "30.9% of the federal civilian workforce consists of veterans," for whom the legislators fear the cuts would have "disruptive" and "demoralizing" effects.

House Democrats sent their own letter to Ryan on June 14.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 workers, welcomed the letter from the GOP group. NTEU President Tony Reardon said the letter "puts House leadership on notice that any effort to slash federal salaries and pensions will be met with fierce, bipartisan resistance."

The signatories, who hail from districts with high federal employee and retiree populations, are Reps. Barbara Comstock and Rob Wittman of Virginia, Christopher Smith and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, along with Rob Bishop (Utah), Tom Cole (Okla.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

About the Author

Ben Berliner is a former editorial fellow at FCW. He is a 2017 graduate of Kenyon College, and has interned at the Center for Responsive Politics and at Sunlight Foundation.

He can be contacted at [email protected].

Click here for previous articles by Berliner.


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