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House Republicans: Cut feds' retirement benefits to pay for transportation

Feb. 8, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said a Republican bill that cuts federal workers' retirement to offset transportation cuts was egregious.
Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said a Republican bill that cuts federal workers' retirement to offset transportation cuts was egregious. (Army Times Publishing Co.)

House Republicans are planning to use cuts to federal retirement benefits to cover the cost of a major transportation bill.

HR 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, was posted on the House Rules Committee's website Wednesday. It includes HR 3813, the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act, which the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed Tuesday night on a party-line vote. That bill would increase the amount federal employees pay toward their pensions, eliminate a Social Security supplement for Federal Employees Retirement System retirees, and drastically cut pensions for future federal employees.

A vote on HR 7 could happen as early as next week. The House Rules Committee has set a deadline of Feb. 13 for submitting amendments.

The American Federation of Government Employees and National Treasury Employees Union denounced Republicans' plans to pay for highway improvements through cuts to federal retirements.

"We think that's appalling," AFGE Legislative Director Beth Moten said in a conference call with reporters. Moten said lawmakers are trying to plug a $40 billion shortfall in funding in the bill with $45 billion from HR 3813's retirement cuts.

Federal unions and Democratic lawmakers blasted Republicans for targeting middle-class federal employees' pensions while refusing to consider raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

NTEU President Colleen Kelley said it is particularly egregious for Republicans to first depict the retirement cuts as necessary for deficit reduction, and then use them to offset costs for the transportation bill.

"This most recent action removes the pretense of deficit reduction, and is clearly a gratuitous attack on the public servants who protect our borders, safeguard our air and food supply and look after our life savings," Kelley said. "Why look to highway trust funds and gas taxes to fix crumbling roads and bridges, when you can find the funding by reneging on federal pension commitments and cut federal pay?"

HR 3813 would require current federal employees, lawmakers and their staffs to contribute 1.5 percentage points more toward their pensions, and eliminate the FERS supplemental payment for retirees who are not yet old enough for Social Security. Newly hired feds would have to contribute 4 percent toward their pensions, and would have their retirements calculated at a much lower rate, and based on their highest five annual salaries, instead of the current high-three.

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