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House Republicans target their own benefits


It’s not unusual for House Republicans to call for limits on federal retirement benefits, but this time the benefits they are targeting are their own.

During a Wednesday hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce, Chairman Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.) said his legislation would help “ensure that members of Congress are treated no better than their fellow citizens in the federal workforce.”

Currently, the method used  to calculate retirement benefits has a higher multiplier for members of Congress, in most cases, than the multiplier in the formula for regular federal employees. Ross’s legislation would equalize the formula at a point that would result in lower retirement payments for elected and all other federal workers.

Ross also supports other legislation that would cut into federal annuities.

It’s clear “the taxpayer has had enough of ‘Do what I say, not what I do’ from Washington,’” Ross said. “Being a member of Congress is not a career, it’s an honor bestowed upon a few, by the great people of this nation.”
 Six Republican congressmen urged the panel to support their separate pieces of legislation, all of which would either cut benefits for members of Congress or allow them to opt out of those benefits.

— Rep. Richard Nugent’s (Fla.) “Congress is Not a Career Act” would allow members to decline benefits offered through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan.

— Rep. Robert Dold (Ill.) wants to deny congressional pension benefits to former members “if they are convicted of a covered offense that occurred while subsequently serving in any publicly-elected office,” including at the state and local levels.

— Rep. Robert Schilling (Ill.) said his bill ties a member’s eligibility to receive pension benefits to the Social Security retirement age. He said they now can get those benefits at age 50 with 25 years of service.

— Rep. Howard Coble (N.C.) said members should be required to have 12 years of service, instead of the current five years, before they could be vested under FERS.

— Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.) told the panel that his bill “would terminate the defined benefit pension plan available to members of Congress.”

— Rep. Tim Griffin (Ark.) said his “End Pensions in Congress Act” would “end the pension plan for members of the House and Senate who have served for five or more years and do not opt in to continue their pension benefits within 90 days of the bill’s enactment.”

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