The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has advanced Congressman Dennis Ross’ (R-FL) bill by a vote of 22-16.
The Secure Annuities for Federal Employee Act (HR 3813) would make a number of changes to federal workers’ pensions, including requiring federal employees to pay more towards their retirement plans. The bill would apply to enrolled employees in all three branches of government, including members of Congress. Ross said the reforms are necessary because federal pensions have an unfunded liability of $681.7 billion.
“The unfunded liability stems from the fact that the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund is not a store of wealth for the federal government. In other words, it is a trust fund full of IOUs, just like the Social Security Trust Fund,” said Ross, who also noted that in order to actually pay annuities, the U.S. treasury must disburse money that is either raised by taxes or borrowed from the public.
Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said that the real advantages of the bill could be seen long term: “This is not just about savings today. This is about savings that our children and grandchildren will appreciate.”
Speaking on the committee passage of the bill, Ross said, “Ensuring that Members of Congress enjoy no better benefits than the rest of the federal workforce is a step in the right direction toward regaining our credibility with the American people. In addition, with payroll costs to the taxpayer approaching $450 billion per year, and pension costs exploding, asking federal workers and Members of Congress to contribute more to their retirement is not a burden too heavy. State governments, local governments and most certainly, the private sector, are all recognizing the reality that the burden of retirement costs must be shared. The federal workforce enjoys unparalleled job security, benefits, and according to CBO, vastly better incomes than their private sector counterparts. Requiring federal employees to catch up to the rest of the nation protects the taxpayer, protects the retirement future of federal workers, and brings the federal government closer to economic reality.”