In passing a budget outline Thursday, the House endorsed several provisions targeting federal employee pay, retirement benefits and job levels.
It rejected an alternative plan to leave them alone but also voted down still another to cut into benefits even more deeply.
The budget resolution proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls for continuing the freeze on federal salary rates through 2015, cutting federal employment by 10 percent by hiring only one replacement for every three employees who leave, and requiring employees to pay as much into the retirement fund as the government pays. That provision would require an increase on the employee side of as much as 6 percent of salary.
The budget also raises the prospect of other cuts, including ending a retirement supplement for most employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System who retire before age 62.
While the Senate is not expected to approve the House plan for the government’s fiscal year that starts in October or even pass an alternative, the votes put the House Republican majority on record as favoring those provisions, and they could resurface as part of other bills.
During a series of votes, the House rejected a Democratic-sponsored plan containing no such changes, as well as one offered by a conservative group proposing base retiree inflation adjustments on a less generous measure and capping the government’s share of employee health insurance premiums, in addition to equalizing the retirement contributions.
Meanwhile, in deciding to extend certain transportation programs for three months, Congress has set aside several employee-related provisions that the Senate had attached to its version of a more comprehensive bill. One would allow federal workers to phase into retirement by drawing a partial annuity while working part-time and receiving a prorated salary. The other would boost, retroactive to January, from $125 to $240 the monthly tax-free maximum that employers including the federal government can pay to reimburse employees for taking public transit in their commuting.