Budget

Congress passes budget plan without steep cuts to federal retirement plans

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The House narrowly approved a budget blueprint that omitted billions in cuts to federal retirement benefits initially sought by conservatives on Capitol Hill. Instead, the House set the stage for a planned tax cut bill by passing the Senate's budget resolution on a  216 to 212 vote, with a handful of Republicans opposing the measure.

The Senate's version directs the Finance Committee to propose $1.5 trillion "for comprehensive tax reform" and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to propose $1 billion "in deficit reduction."

Democrats on the House Budget Committee estimated the total cuts to federal compensation and retirement benefits included in the House's original resolution would have totaled at least $163 billion over 10 years.

The White House budget proposal outlined $6.5 billion in savings in fiscal year 2018 alone by reducing federal retirement benefits.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump applauded the House's passage of the budget. Sanders added that the vote sets the stage "for tax cuts and tax reform" and for "simplifying the rigged and burdensome tax code."

Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 employees across 31 agencies, said he was "pleased that the final 2018 budget resolution does not include instructions... in the earlier House-approved version that put a $32 billion target on federal employee benefits."

"As Congress takes up spending bills for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, NTEU will strongly oppose any proposal that would reduce the paychecks or pensions of former, current and future federal employees." Reardon said.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which is the largest federal union and represents about 700,000 employees, blasted the vote.

"While this budget resolution does not include the severe cuts to federal workers' wages and benefits that were called for in the original House bill, this is no time to celebrate," said AFGE National President J. David Cox. "In voting for this irresponsible budget resolution, lawmakers have gone on record supporting a plan that raises taxes on middle-class workers, cuts services largely benefiting lower income Americans, and delivers huge tax cuts to the top 1 percent -- all while increasing the nation's deficit."

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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