The House is expected to vote this week to kill a Carter administration proposal that would limit federal, postal and military retirees to a single cost-of-living (COL) adjustment each year.
Originally, the White House and congressional budget committees wanted to eliminate one of the COL adjustments that retirees now get every March and September.
The Senate voted to modify the plan to skip only this month's raise. (That increase went into effect yesterday and the 7.7 percent inflation adjustment will show up in next month's annuity checks. The House Post Office-Civil Service Committee, meanwhile, approved a plan to let retirees have the September 1980 raise, but skip the March 1981 adjustment.
The COL cutback is included in the second congressional budget resolution for the fiscal 1981. The Senate has already passed its version of the resolution, but action is pending in the House.
Lobbysits from federal, postal and retiree groups staged a tough fight within the House Rules Committee.They wanted the COL cutback issue separated from the rest of the budget package, so they could force the House to vote on it separately. Chairman Richard Bolling (D-Mo.) objected to the surgery, arguing that the retiree cutback is part of the overall budget package. But he couldn't get the votes to beat Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), who favored language that will allow an amendment -- to be offered by Rep. Joseph Fisher (D-Va.) -- to the budget package that sets up a separate vote on the COL issue.
When that vote comes -- today or Thursday -- head-counts think the retiree-union groups have the votes to defeat the COL cutback.
If the House votes to continue to let retirees get two COL raises per year, insiders expect the Senate will go along when the budget resolution goes to a Seante-House conference.
At any rate, the Sept. 1 COL raise has gone into effect and Congress cant't take it back now. And odds are good that heavy pressure from government workers and retirees will convince Congress not to tamper with the pension system before the November elections.