Senate to Leave Benefits, Buyout Issues on the Table

It’s now unlikely that the Senate will even begin the process of producing a budget blueprint as a companion to one pending in the House that calls for increasing employee contributions toward retirement and ending the FERS “special retirement supplement.”

Much of the Senate’s attention in recent weeks has focused on health insurance policy and after recessing soon, its focus will shift in September to funding agencies, likely only temporarily at first, for the fiscal year that starts in October and dealing with the pending need to raise the federal debt ceiling. Congressional Republican leaders also plan a tax reform effort with a goal of finishing quickly—the kind of schedule that was attempted, and failed, on health care.

Absent Senate action on a budget “resolution,” the House measure, if it passes, could act as the basis for future decisions alone. There remains pressure for the House to act because the measure would provide the grounds for the tax reform bill to be brought to the Senate needing only a simple majority vote there to pass.

The Senate meanwhile set aside until after the recess another major bill, the annual DoD authorization, in part due to the illness of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the Armed Services Committee chairman. That bill contains many routine extensions of special pay and other authorities at DoD and could be used to address certain government-wide policies such as the administration’s proposal to raise the buyout maximum to $40,000 government-wide.