The Senate Budget Committee has approved a budget plan that assumes an increase in required retirement contributions for most federal employees, in the process rejecting a series of Democratic amendments against it.
The budget “resolution” is an outline for the fiscal year that starts each October. Even if the full Senate and the House were to agree to similar provisions—the latter being unlikely—it is only an internal congressional working document that only assigns savings or new revenue targets to other committees to achieve and leaves it up to those panels to decide how to achieve them.
In addition to assuming higher retirement contributions as a new source of revenue, the Senate measure would instruct its Governmental Affairs committee to achieve $15 billion in savings over five years. Federal retirement and health insurance account for the large majority of the spending under the control of that committee and its House counterpart, and thus they almost certainly would have to target those programs.
In addition to raising required retirement contributions for FERS employees by 8 percent of salary, phased in over as many years, the Trump administration has proposed a number of reductions to the value of retirement benefits. The Senate budget plan—which now is ready for a vote by the full Senate—mentions only the retirement contribution proposal.
The House has not drafted a counterpart and there have been reports that it won’t. Its focus has been on hearings for the appropriations bills, where federal unions have advocated protecting benefits from any cuts and advocating a 3.6 percent raise for January.
Administration officials meanwhile advocated moving to a more performance-based and occupation-based approach to paying raises and taking benefits into account when comparing federal vs. non-federal pay—all often-repeated ideas that are resisted by employee organizations and their allies in Congress.