Budget

Senate passes budget slashing civilian agency funding

Civilian agencies would see their budget slashed by billions of dollars and federal employees would be at risk of agency workforce cuts under a budget resolution passed by the Senate May 5.

The Senate voted to pass the budget 51 to 48, with all Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. The House already passed the resolution April 30.

The budget calls for about $496 billion in cuts to non-defense spending over a 10-year period, with the cuts starting in 2017. However, the Defense Department would see large increases in spending over that same period, to the tune of about $187 billion.

While the Defense Department's base budget fits within the automatic budget caps imposed by sequestration, the budget places the additional funding in an "overseas contingency operations" account that is not subject to the budget caps imposed by sequestration.

Civilian agencies would see a $16 billion cut in 2017, or about $24 billion under a Congressional Budget Office projection.

House and Senate Republicans have been working to reconcile budget proposals that included significant benefit cuts and plans increase federal employee pension contributions to six percent or more of salaries.

The original House budget had also included proposals to 10 percent through attrition and increase Postal Service employee contributions to their health insurance premiums as well as decreases the rate of return on the Thrift Savings Plan's government securities fund (G Fund) and encourages the elimination of the Federal Employee Retirement System annuity supplement.

None of those proposals made it into the final version, which is what the Senate voted on May 5.

The compromise document does retain a measure that allows the Budget Committee chairman to find ways to revise and update the federal retirement system, but only if those changes did not increase the deficit over a 10-year period.

The budget proposal also calls upon Congress to pass legislation requiring agencies and programs funded through fees or offsetting collections to be allocated new budget authority every year. The proposal will help increase transparency in agency spending, according to the document.

The budget also calls for more efficient spending on government IT procurements and programs, saying the federal government could save about $20 billion a year. The budget document also calls for an additional $106 billion in savings by eliminating improper payments.

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