The federal workforce would be slashed by 10 percent - or more than 200,000 employees - over the next two years under legislation introduced Jan. 23.
The Federal Workforce Reduction Through Attrition Act would limit agencies to just one new hire for every three employees that quit or retire, according to the bill. Reps. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wy., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who introduced the bill, believe it would achieve the 10 percent cut by Sept. 30, 2016.
Lummis said the national debt has hit $18 trillion because of out-of-control spending and a "bloated" federal government and that the bill would save $35 billion over five years.
"Attrition is a solution that requires the federal government to do what any business, state, or local government would do to cut costs— limit new hires. Instead of blindly filling empty desks, this bill forces agencies to take a step back, consider which positions are crucial, and make decisions based on necessity rather than luxury," Lummis said in a statement.
Mulvaney said it was "no secret" that the federal government is too big and spends too much, and that the bill is a big step in the direction of efficiency.
The legislation also requires the Office of Management and Budget to make ongoing quarterly determinations about whether agencies are following the attrition guidelines, and to institute a hiring freeze on an agency if it has exceeded its hiring authority.
The bill also prevents agencies from replacing federal workers with contractors by decreasing agency procurement of service contracts.
J. David Cox, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement the legislation was "misguided" and would arbitrarily slash the size of the federal workforce without reducing any of the agency's workload.
"We've already seen what happens when the number of employees drops while workloads climb. Veterans have to wait too long to get medical care, seniors are put on hold while seeking Social Security assistance, employees who are discriminated against at work wait years to get their day in court," Cox said.
Cox pointed out the number of federal workers is at an all-time low – 2 percent of the overall U.S. workforce – and that there is only one federal employee for every 155 residents.
"If Reps. Lummis and Mulvaney believe the federal government can afford to lose another 200,000 employees in the span of a single year, then they should explain to the American public where they think these cuts should occur and what services they think we can do without," Cox said.