FEDweek

Senate Budget Plan Silent on Potential Retirement Changes

The Senate Budget Committee is meeting this week to produce a budget outline for the fiscal year that started Sunday, with early indications that it won’t call for reductions in federal retirement benefits or increasing employee contributions toward retirement as advocated in a counterpart measure the House passed in the summer.

The main focus of the budget resolution is to create authority for a planned Republican-sponsored tax policy revision to be considered in the Senate under rules requiring only a simple majority vote. That authority, called reconciliation, gives instructions to various committees to meet budgetary goals it sets.

However, the Senate measure as drafted–it is subject to change during the committee voting and floor voting processes–does not instruct the committee dealing with federal employee benefits in the Senate, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, to achieve reductions in spending. A summary says it merely would direct committees to “identify waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication in federal programs,” review GAO reports, and recommend ways to improve agency operations.

In contrast, the House version ordered its counterpart committee to produce $32 billion in savings over 10 years through steps such as raising the required retirement contribution and eliminating the “special retirement supplement” paid to those who retire under FERS before age 62 until they reach that age and become eligible for Social Security. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has taken no followup action, though, since the budget resolution had stalled after moving to the Senate.

Meanwhile, the House plans to revisit the budget instructions, with competing amendments pending to either increase or decrease the amount committees would be ordered to save.