What Would a Ryan House Speakership Mean for Federal Employees?

By on October 27, 2015 in Pay & Benefits, Retirement with 147 Comments
Image of Congressman Paul Ryan

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently announced that he will run for Speaker of the House. What would a House of Representatives led by Paul Ryan look like for federal employees?

The best way to answer this question is to look at the history of proposals Ryan has advocated that pertain to the federal workforce.

When the House released its 2015 budget proposal, then Committee Chairman Ryan was behind the proposal. That budget proposal included increased pension contributions as well as cuts to the federal workforce through attrition. For details, see Ryan Budget Calls for Hike in Federal Employee Retirement Contributions.

Going further into the past, a look at other budget proposals yields more of the same.

In 2012, the House Budget Committee’s blueprint at that time proposed freezing federal salaries through 2015, workforce cuts through attrition, and increased pension contributions. Ryan said at that time, “We think that federal workers should have to pay half of their pensions themselves instead of having the private sector taxpayers pay for all of it.” For details, see Ryan Budget Blueprint Raises Pension Contributions.

And again in 2013, the Ryan-Murray agreement that was put in place to avoid a shutdown instituted a 1.3% increase in pension contributions for federal workers hired after January 1, 2014. That meant that the contribution amount for new FERS employees rose to 4.4% of their salaries instead of the 0.8% federal employees were currently paying.

The increased pension contributions were put in place, and the various contribution levels for FERS employees became confusing with employees hired at different times contributing different amounts of their salaries. For a full breakdown of the various contribution levels of FERS employees, see FERS, FERS-RAE, FERS-FRAE… What Does All This Mean?.

So how likely are some of these proposals to actually come to fruition? Ultimately nobody knows, but since we have been hearing about many of them for years, it seems unlikely they are going to suddenly be passed into law now. And since 2016 is an election year, politicians are going to do all they can to win support from voters rather than alienate them.

If Republicans were to gain control of both Congress and the White House, the picture could look different. Even in that scenario, keep in mind that looking back over the last decade, federal workers enjoyed higher raises under the Bush administration than they have under the Obama administration, so a Republican administration is not necessarily an immediate death sentence for all things related to the federal workforce. The table below shows the pay raises given to federal employees since 2001.

Year Pay Raise
2001 3.7
2002 4.6
2003 4.1
2004 4.1
2005 3.5
2006 3.1
2007 2.2
2008 3.5
2009 3.9
2010 2
2011 0
2012 0
2013 0
2014 1
2015 1.3

FedSmith.com author John Grobe wrote last year that he was not at all concerned about most of the cuts that politicians keep suggesting for federal workers. John did a nice job of breaking down each one of the most oft-repeated proposals and offered a detailed explanation of why he thought they were unlikely to pass.

FedSmith.com will continue to keep you informed of any future regulations (proposed or actual) that impact the federal workforce.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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