Earlier this week, I shared with you that Representative Steve Womack (R-AR), chair of the House Budget Committee, released a proposed budget plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The House Budget Committee met and considered the plan for two days, ultimately voting on a party line vote (21-13) to approve the budget.
The committee’s FY 19 budget resolution is a budget blueprint that outlines general spending plans including over $302 billion in proposed cuts to federal programs. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has jurisdiction over federal employee pay and benefits, would be tasked with cutting $32 billion from federal employee retirement benefits.
Specifically, the budget 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 would provide retirement income for federal employees.
The budget resolution specifically instructs the House Oversight Committee 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.
The committee’s budget maintains the spending caps for domestic and defense agencies for FY19 in accordance with the now-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123). However, while defense programs would see significant increases in funding, entitlement programs, including Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, and non-defense agency discretionary spending, would bear the brunt of budget cuts for the next 10 years.
NTEU sent a letter to the committee in advance of the markup and will continue to work with congressional allies to block cuts to CSRS and FERS. Several Republican members have shared concerns with the budget, and it is not known at this time whether or not there will be enough support from legislators to put this budget resolution on the House floor. Senate consideration of an FY 2019 budget also remains uncertain currently.
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