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100-plus lawmakers join in opposing fed pay, benefits cuts in proposed 2018 budget

June 19, 2017 (Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Congressmen Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and over 100 members of the House sent a letter to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., expressing their opposition to the proposed policy changes President Donald Trump has proposed in his fiscal 2018 budget request.

These four changes would amount to a total loss of $149 billion from middle class federal employees and retirees to help “pay for tax cuts for billionaires,” according to the letter.

The proposed changes include an increase to the amount federal employees pay toward retirement — which can effectively be a pay cut; a reduction to the COLA for Civil Service Retirement System beneficiaries and an elimination of COLAs for federal retirees in the Federal Employee Retirement System; an elimination of employee supplements for those retiring before 62; and to base future retirement benefits on the highest five years’ salary rather than the current three.

The effects of these four proposals would extend past future employment to all current federal retirees and employees, “breaking a promise to current federal employees and retirees” who have already built a life around their expected income, the letter states. Furthermore, the benefits outlined support jobs that are physically demanding and tend to force early retirement.

The letter notes the previous costs federal employees have previously paid, resulting in a total contribution to reduce the deficit by at least $182 billion since 2010 as well as the previous 2013 government shutdown which the letter says was caused by “an irresponsible Congress.”

The letter’s “strong opposition to President Trump’s assault on the salaries and pensions of middle class federal employees, retirees, and their families” continues by noting the harm these four changes would do to the nation in its entirety. With federal workers working to protect the American people from all threats, diseases and dangerous condition, cutting their pay would only effectively “[push] those skilled people out of the civil service and [impair] the recruitment of new talent.”

The budget cannot be balanced on the backs of federal workers, and, the letter notes that Raskin, Connolly, and the 100 members of the House, “will oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of public servants, and we urge you to stop legislation from being brought to the House floor that would undermine and demoralize our federal workforce.”

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