Congress this week begins a stretch in which it will be in session all but one week until its summer recess at the end of July, a time that could determine the course of Trump administration proposals affecting federal employee benefits, particularly retirement.
The budget process is off to a late start this year due to the transition, with a full proposal from the White House coming only two weeks ago. The next step is supposed to be a congressional budget “resolution” providing a blueprint for appropriations bills to come later. While such a measure is not binding, it serves as the vehicle for Congress to take stances on the administration’s proposals.
In most recent years, though, only the House has produced such a plan, with the Senate relying on a prior long-term budget agreement as the basis for the appropriations bills. The course this year is unclear.
Several of those prior House blueprints endorsed ideas similar to those most recently proposed by the White House: raising the required employee contributions toward retirement (although the Trump plan would affect only those under FERS), basing future annuities on the high-five consecutive salary years rather than the current three, and ending the FERS “special retirement supplement.” This year the administration further proposed reducing the CSRS retiree COLA and eliminating the COLA on the civil service portion for FERS retirees.