Bucking that tide is a well-intentioned if ill-fated resolution introduced by a freshman Democrat, Rep. Hansen Clarke of Detroit.
The resolution “supporting federal employees” says the current two-year freeze on federal basic pay rates, originally proposed by President Obama, should end as scheduled this year. Congress and Obama, it says, “should prevent any further cuts to the pensions or benefits of federal employees.”
Clarke said he introduced the resolution because “many times government employees are vilified.”
In preparing the resolution, he drew on his experiences as a local government procurement employee in Wayne County, Mich. His resolution would allow “members of Congress to take a stand on recognizing the value of the work of federal employees and the fact that they’ve already taken a pay cut,” he said in an interview.
More than a resolution that simply praises the good works of the workforce, the measure opposes several specific points that are, or recently have been, the subject of legislation or policy proposals.
The resolution says:
●Federal employee contributions to their retirement system should not be increased. (Congress has already approved legislation requiring increased pension contributions for most federal employees who will be hired starting next year.)
●The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program should not be turned into a voucher program that shifts the costs of health insurance to employees and retirees.
●●The annuity multiplier used to determine retirement benefits for federal employees should not be decreased.
●The Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement should not be eliminated.
●Plans for Social Security reform should not include utilizing a Chained Consumer Price Index, which would reduce federal annuities.
Because the resolution is so specific and rejects proposals that many in the House favor, there is little to no chance it will get a vote, much less approved. The resolution has been referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where the chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and the chairman of the subcommittee on the federal workforce, Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.), reject it.
“Chairman Issa very much values the work of federal employees, but this resolution specifically contradicts the reasonable cost-cutting budget reforms advanced as part of the House 2013 budget, other legislation and proposals by President Obama,” said his spokesman, Ali Ahmad.
Ross “would be open to a resolution genuinely thanking federal employees for their service, but not something as politically one-sided as this,” said Fred Piccolo, Ross’s chief of staff.
Clarke’s heart is in the right place, but his resolution doesn’t have the votes in the Republican-dominated House.