Rep. Mike Barnes (D-Md.) said yesterday that he will urge Congress to restore a $1 billion cost-of-living adjustment denied federal and military retirees in January as a result of the deficit reduction act.
The COLA that Barnes hopes to defrost would be worth about $30 per month to the typical retiree here, and about half that to widows and widowers of retirees.
Although Barnes' proposed amendment is regarded as a long shot, Congress could decide to give retirees retroactive payments or authorize a raise that would kick in later this year. There are more than 100,000 retirees in the Washington area.
Because of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings legislation, millions of U.S. retirees were denied the 3.1 percent inflation adjustment given to Social Security recipients.
The COLAs for federal-military and Social Security recipients were designed to help them catch up with inflation each year.
Barnes' plan is possible because the Supreme Court struck down a central provision in Gramm-Rudman that would have required automatic cutbacks if federal deficit targets weren't met. The court said that Congress can still make the cuts, but must directly vote on them. Congress has up to 60 days to reaffirm the cuts already in effect, but it could act much sooner.
Tomorrow, the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office are expected to send Congress a revised package of spending cuts for the current fiscal year, which began eight months ago.
That package is expected to recommend continuation of the COLA freeze, which covers 1.9 million civilian federal retirees and 1.6 million military retirees and survivors.
Once the OMB-CBO package goes to Congress, the clock for legislative action begins ticking. If Congress approves the revised plan, most of the cuts imposed earlier, including the retiree COLA freeze, will stand.
The House will act first on the new spending cut procedures. If the leadership agrees, amendments such as Barnes' will be considered on the House floor.
If not, members will have to vote up or down on the entire package, which includes many other important items. People
Jack Zwirn has retired after 34 years with the Merit Systems Protection Board, Labor Department, Customs Service and Civil Service Commission.
The Air Force has reclaimed Freda W. Kurtz, who was mislabeled here yesterday as a (can you believe it?) Navy Department employe. Kurtz, the new president of Federally Employed Women Inc., says that although some of her best friends are in that other outfit, she is 100 percent Air Force.
Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have been given top service awards by the Professional Managers Association. PMA honored its president Don Gillis for outstanding service, and gave special awards to the Labor Department's Helene Benson, and to 11-year-old Donny Gillis Jr. for long unpaid hours of service to PMA.
General Services Administrator Terence C. Golden has been given the Senior Executive Association's leadership award. He was cited for streamlining GSA, working closely with career executives and for liberalizing federal travelers expense account allowances.