Congress next week is expected to take the first step toward guaranteeing a full cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) next year for the government's 2 million civilian retirees or their survivors.
The retirees were supposed to get a 3.1 percent COLA last January, but the raise was knocked out by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings balanced budget act. That increase would have been worth about $30 a month to the typical civil servant here (there are about 100,000 of them) and about $14 a month for survivor annuitants.
To avoid a repeat of the COLA freeze, the House compensation and employee benefits subcommittee next week is expected to take up a bill insulating retiree raises from budget cuts. Its parent Post Office-Civil Service Committee would then take up -- and is expected to pass -- the bill late next month or in early June. The bill, offered by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), has 225 cosponsors and needs only 218 votes to pass the House.
Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate, where approval is less certain. Retirement Impasse?
The White House has asked Congress for an additional 30 days to work out a compromise retirement plan for the 300,000 federal workers hired since January 1984. Unless that extension is approved, those employes -- beginning tomorrow -- will have an additional 5.6 percent deducted from their paychecks to pay for full coverage under the current civil service pension program.
Senate-House conferees have reached tentative agreement on a retirement plan for the post-1983 workers that would base their benefits on Social Security, a modified civil service benefit and a voluntary tax-deferred investment program. The conferees had said previously that if the White House rejected their compromise, the bargaining was over.
But late yesterday the White House requested an extension of the negotiating period. It is insisting that the cost of the new package be reduced 0.4 percent (or about $200 million a year) by eliminating some features in the Senate-House compromise. The White House wants to bar pre-1984 civil servants from participating in the investment plan and to raise the retirement age for new workers to 59.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Rep. William D. Ford (D-Mich.) met with White House aides Monday and yesterday but couldn't get them to accept the compromise bill. However, an aide to Stevens said that he expected that Congress will extend the negotiations.
If an agreement can't be reached on a new retirement plan, federal employes hired since January 1984 will have to start contributing 7 percent of salary into the civil service pension plan and pay the full Social Security tax. For the past two years they have contributed only 1.3 percent of salary, but that interim payment plan is due to end at midnight. Meetings
Agriculture's Communicators in Education will hold its May 8-9 workshop at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase. For details call Karen Stuck on 447-9113.
T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., counselor to the attorney general, will speak tomorrow at the Navy Yard Officers Club. The luncheon is sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the Judge Advocates Association. Call Tom Miller at 638-0252.
Agriculture's Graduate School is sponsoring a half-day "Being a Dynamic Woman in the Public Service" seminar May 8 at the Center for Applied Management, 600 Maryland Ave. SW. Keynote speaker is Jinx Melia, author of "Why Jenny Can't Lead." For information call 447-3247.