A bill that would protect next January's cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees from budget-cutting actions picked up its 218th House sponsor yesterday, giving it the support of a simple majority of the House and nearly ensuring that it will pass there.

The member who put the bill over the top was Rep. Les AuCoin (D-Ore.).

It will probably clear the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee and then be scheduled for a House vote. The Senate would have to approve similar legislation exempting the civil service COLA budget trims before the measure could go to the president.

Federal retirees, who number 100,000 in this area, were due a 3.1 percent raise in January.

But it was killed because of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings amendment to the deficit reduction act.

The pending legislation, introduced by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), would prevent a repeat of that next year.

The last retiree COLA was a 3.5 percent raise in January 1985.

The typical federal retiree has a pension of about $13,000, and the typical survivor of a federal retiree (and there are 492,000 of them) gets about $6,000 a year, according to the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.

Longtime retirees can't be blamed for confusion over the COLA policy.

Congress has regularly tinkered with it.

A few years ago, because of the high cost of each COLA, Congress limited retirees to a single annual adjustment. Since then, with the blessing of the Reagan administration, Congress has taken action to postpone or freeze some retiree raises.

A rundown of retiree raises of the past decade shows the changing federal pension policy triggered by the high inflation rate of the early 1980s:

January 1985, 3.5 percent raise; May 1983, 3.9 percent for retirees who were over age 62 and 3.3 percent for retirees who were under 62; April 1982, 8.7 percent; April 1981, 4.4 percent; October 1980, 7.7 percent; April 1980, 6.0 percent; October 1979, 6.9 percent; April 1979, 3.9 percent; October 1978, 4.9 percent; April 1978, 2.4 percent; October 1977, 4.3 percent; April 1977, 4.8 percent; April 1976, 5.4 percent. People

Commerce Department's Hugh L. Brennan has been elected chairman of the Federal Administrative Managers Association.

FAMA's vice chairman is Edwin M. Sullivan of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Marjorie Christie's extensive fan club will assemble at Blackie's House of Beef today to mark her retirement after 37 years with the Agricultural Cooperative Service. In addition to her civilian time with Uncle Sam, she served with the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Wild, Wonderful West Virginia!

Professional Secretaries Week (April 20-26) isn't going entirely unnoticed at the National Park Service center in Harpers Ferry.

On Monday the bosses had scheduled an "appreciation break" for secretaries, with cookies and punch in the cafeteria.

This wasn't the secretaries' idea of a big time.