A budget plan that has now cleared final votes in Congress would order substantial savings in the accounts under the control of the committees that oversee federal employee benefits, although it’s uncertain exactly how Congress might try to translate that into changes in law. The budget resolution worked out by conferees and then quickly passed by both the House and Senate on partisan votes is an internal Capitol Hill planning document and is not presented to the White House—which almost certainly would veto it if it were. The measure orders a reduction in spending for programs under the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of $194 billion over 10 years, a cut of more than 10 percent from the “baseline” level, but does not specify or even suggest where to find such savings (the numbers are less definite on the Senate side because the counterpart committee there also oversees homeland security matters). In past similar situations Congress has produced a separate bill called a reconciliation bill to carry out such savings orders, but it’s not clear what process might be used this time. That likely will become clearer soon, possibly as early as next week when the House returns from a recess.
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