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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Republicans keep focus on federal pay

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), center right, is one of several GOP lawmakers pushing cuts to federal pay and benefits. (Susan Walsh - AP)
Less than a week after House Republicans voted to freeze pay increases for federal employees, a bill forcing the rank and file to pay more for retirement benefits is up next.

Eye Opener

A bill under consideration Tuesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would force workers to pay 1.5 percent more toward their pensions over three years beginning in 2013. The bill is expected to pass the committee on a party-line vote, then move to the full House for consideration.

But the bill under consideration today is just one of several GOP proposals to curtail federal pay and benefits that is moving through the legislative process. Let’s briefly recap the bills under consideration:

1.) The Securing Annuities for Federal Employees Act of 2012: The bill would calculate federal retirement based on a federal employee’s highest five years of earnings instead of the current rate, which calculates the highest three years. The change would apply only to workers hired after this year and who do not have at least five years of previous federal service. Notably, lawmakers also would be included. The bill also would force pension contributions to rise 1.5 percent over three years and make other changes that would force many employees to pay more for a smaller retirement program. Sponsor: Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.). Status: In committee, most likely headed for a full House vote.

(RELATED: In pension calculations, proposed ‘high five’ is really a slap in the face)

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), center, wants to freeze within-grade step increases. (Alex Wong - GETTY IMAGES)
2.) Honest Budget Act: The bill would make it more difficult for Congress to pass appropriations bills without first approving a budget. It also tightens rules on paying for natural disasters that increase overall spending. Tucked within the bill, however, are provisions that would freeze all within-grade step increases for federal employees. Virtually every federal employee eligible for the pay bump earns it, according to the Office of Personnel Management, and payouts average about $2,000 as a worker graduates through the 10 steps of a grade in the 15-grade General Schedule pay system. Sponsor: Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.). Status: Proposed last week.

3.) Extending the Federal Pay Freeze One More Year: The bill would extend a pay freeze for federal employees, congressional staffs and lawmakers for one more year, beginning in 2013. Sponsor: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). Status: Passed the House last week.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), left, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), right, are also pushing federal pay cuts. (Pete Marovich - GETTY IMAGES)
4.) Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012 : The bill would extend the federal employee pay freeze through June 2014 and cut the federal workforce by 5 percent through attrition. Supporters say those cuts would shore up sequestration cuts in defense spending set to take effect next year. Sponsors: Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Status: Unveiled last week.

Several other House and Senate proposals are out there, but not capturing as much attention as the bills above. Did we forget any big proposals? What do you think of them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

In pension calculations, proposed ‘high five’ is really a slap in the face

Congressional investigators find ‘reason to believe’ Buchanan broke ethics laws

Secret money is funding more election ads

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues, Congress

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