As I reported to you earlier, the U.S. Senate will debate and vote on its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 25) later this week. Unlike the House-passed budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 71), the Senate’s budget resolution heads to the Senate floor not containing any specific instructions to cut federal employee benefit programs. However, amendments are still possible during floor consideration.
Separate from the formal budget language to be voted on, a larger policy report accompanies the report, which was released today. This report, while not formal legislation that carries the force of law, outlines various overall spending priorities of the Senate Budget Committee. It includes a general statement that federal retirement benefits should be reformed “to ensure fairness.” Further, this report includes a section from every Senate committee outlining their respective policy priorities. Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction over federal employee benefits, outlines a need to bring federal employee retirement benefits in line with the private sector, and states that Congress should be debating the following proposals: eliminating the FERS pension and moving to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) only, replacing the current high 3 annuity formula with a high 5 formula, increasing FERS employee contributions for current employees, and reducing the annual retiree COLA.
Upon the expected Senate passage later this week, House and Senate negotiators will meet to produce a conference agreement. Although the Senate budget resolution currently includes no language impacting federal employee benefits, it is possible that such amendments could be offered and pass during Senate floor consideration or that the Conference Committee accepts language cutting federal employee benefit programs from the House Budget Resolution.
I will keep you updated on this week’s Senate developments. To find out more, and see what you can do, please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.