Representative Steve Womack (R-AR), chair of the House Budget Committee, has released a proposed budget plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. As of today, the House Budget Committee is scheduled to consider and vote on the plan starting tomorrow. Several Republican members have shared concerns with the budget plan, and it is not known at this time whether or not there will be enough support from legislators for this budget plan to advance and pass on the House floor. Senate consideration of a FY 2019 budget also remains uncertain.
The proposed blueprint is for a budget resolution for FY 2019, and it outlines general spending plans that include over $302 billion in proposed cuts to federal programs. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which controls legislation over federal employees’ pay and benefits, would be tasked with cutting $32 billion from federal employee retirement benefits.
Specifically, this budget plan recommends that federal employees make greater contributions to their defined benefit plans, following a recommendation from the 2010 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, which recommended a six percent increase. It also seeks to end the “FERS Supplement,” which pays the equivalent of Social Security for those who retire before age 62. There is also language that proposes that the federal workforce transition from a defined benefit pension to a defined contribution pension, suggesting that only Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) would provide retirement income for federal employees.
This budget would instruct the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that has jurisdiction over federal employee pay and benefits, to cut $32 billion over ten years to these programs, but does not include further details. Unlike agency budgets, congressional budgets serve to outline policy priorities and do not on their own change the law. Separate legislation would still be required to effect these changes to federal employee retirement benefits. NTEU has expressed its opposition to these proposals in the past and will continue to do so.
For FY 2019, this budget plan maintains the spending caps for domestic and defense agencies in accordance with the now-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Defense programs would see significant increases in funding under this budget, while entitlement programs, including Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid would bear the brunt of budget cuts and be slashed by $5.4 trillion over the next ten years. Overall, this budget plan would reduce the deficit during the next 10 years by $8.1 trillion.
The House Budget Committee is scheduled to mark up its resolution tomorrow. I will keep you informed on further developments as details become available. To find out more, click here.