Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are advancing Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget resolutions this week that are planned as the legislative vehicle for larger tax reform.
The Senate Budget Committee is set to consider an FY18 budget resolution this Wednesday and Thursday. The committee has unveiled an 89-page draft resolution that would both increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion and assume $5 trillion in undefined spending cuts over the next decade, and would pave the way for a tax overhaul measure to be considered under the expedited reconciliation process, that requires only 51 votes for passage of legislation in the Senate instead of 60. Congressional budgets, unlike agency budgets, are blueprints used to set overall policy priorities that then require additional, separate legislation. Therefore, no specific spending cuts or tax changes are included in the resolution. The Senate resolution also assumes FY18 discretionary spending caps of $549 billion for defense and $516 billion for non-defense programs, as statutorily set under the 2011 Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25), and provides certain flexibility to adjust these budget caps if Congress passes a law raising these discretionary spending caps, including waiving the requirement to offset their increase by cutting other spending. The draft Senate resolution does not contain any targeted cuts to federal employee benefit programs; however, the resolution has not yet been formally acted upon, and changes could occur during committee consideration, and later in conference with the House.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House is scheduled to hold a floor vote on its budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 71) this Thursday. Unlike the Senate, the House’s budget resolution, reported out of the House Budget Committee in July on a party line vote, provides reconciliation instructions directing 11 House committees to draft separate legislation to reduce the deficit by a minimum of $203 billion over ten years. One of the committees given such instructions is the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which handles all federal employee legislation. Under the resolution, that committee is required to craft legislation to produce at least $32 billion or more in cuts, which could only come from federal employee benefit programs. In its overall recommendations for how the cuts should be achieved, the House Budget Committee specifically includes calling for sizable increases in federal employee retirement contributions for all employees (cutting current take-home pay by approximately 6 to 7 percent), the elimination of the FERS supplement, and even the future elimination of the FERS pension.
I want to assure you that NTEU continues its work on Capitol Hill to block the advancement of proposals that target and would decimate federal employee retirement and other benefits.
I will keep you updated on further developments this week as the House and Senate move forward on passage of their FY18 budget resolutions, and specifically on their impact to federal employees and retirees.
To find out more, please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.