A number of proposals have emerged in Congress in the last several months that are aimed at federal employees, and often not in a good way.
With reports in the media about the generous compensation plans bestowed upon the federal workforce, such as the recent CBO report on federal pay and benefits, proposals targeting the federal workforce have become politically popular ammunition in the ongoing election year debates about how to cut the federal deficit.
Proposals coming from Congress have ranged from extending the pay freeze to cutting the size of the federal workforce to increasing pension contributions. Even the President has jumped on board with the idea of making some cuts, having proposed the two year pay freeze in 2010 and then suggesting that federal workers make an increased contribution towards retirement in the 2013 White House budget blueprint released earlier this month.
Federal employee unions have been up in arms over the proposals and continue to speak out against them. The latest is the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
According to the Washington Post, NTEU blames Republicans in Congress for the majority of the unfavorable legislative proposals and has vowed to fight back by supporting Democrats who are seeking Senate seats this year. That strategy could help the federal workforce if a Democratic majority wins in Congress, but it can also backfire if the other party happens to come out on top.
So how much financial support is NTEU giving to Democrats in the upcoming election? According to the nonpartisan tracking site OpenSecrets.org, at the time of this writing, NTEU had given a total of $79,450 to federal candidates for the 2012 election, $75,350 of which went to Democrats and $3,500 to Republicans, so it would seem NTEU is making good on its promise.
For comparison, AFGE, who has also been critical of Republicans with regards to recent legislative proposals affecting the federal workforce, has so far given a total of $339,850 to federal candidates. $320,850 went to Democrats and $14,000 to Republicans.
Public sector unions on the whole have so far given $4,322,397 to federal candidates, $3,970,427 to Democrats and $310,870 to Republicans, so there is a clear position being taken by unions in the upcoming election as to whom they would like to see take office, and OpenSecrets.org data going back to 1998 show this trend in Democratic party support in each of the last seven elections.
To help build support for its impending fight, NTEU has compiled a list of legislative proposals that would have a potential negative impact on federal employees. The list was distributed at the NTEU 2012 Legislative Conference this week. The list, called “Legislative Proposals Harmful to the Federal Workforce” follows below.
H.R. 270 would impose a mandatory two-week unpaid furlough for federal employees. This bill remains in the hands of a House subcommittee.
H.R. 3835 would extend the pay freeze for another year. It passed the House on Feb. 1.?H.R. 3844 would prohibit step increases. The bill has been forwarded to several House committees with jurisdiction over various parts of the legislation. Action is pending.?H.R. 235 proposes cuts to the federal workforce and a three-year pay freeze. Subcommittee action is pending on this measure.
S. 2079 would extend the pay freeze for another year. It has been placed on the Senate calendar.
S. 2065 would extend the freeze through June 30, 2014. A Senate committee has the measure.
S. 1476 would extend the freeze through 2014. It has been referred to a Senate committee.
S. 178 and H.R. 408 would extend the freeze through 2015. The Senate bill is under consideration by a committee; the House bill is in the hands of a subcommittee.
S. 1936 would extend the pay freeze from its present two years to five years. A committee has the bill.
S. 644 would eliminate the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuity. A House subcommittee has this measure.
H.R. 3813 would sharply increase pension contributions, eliminate the FERS supplement and raise pension contributions for new hires. This bill has been cleared for action on the House floor.
CUTTING THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE
H.R. 2114 would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent by 2015, while providing a significant loophole for contracting out the work to the private sector. It has been referred to a House subcommittee.
S. 2065 would reduce the size of government by 5 percent through attrition. This bill is in the hands of the Senate Budget Committee.
H.R. 657 calls for cuts in the federal workforce. All agencies, other than Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security—which account for 60 percent of the workforce—would be able to hire only one employee for every two who leave federal service. Subcommittee action is pending.
H.R. 3029, H.R. 3487 and S. 1476 would reduce the size of the federal government through attrition by permitting the hiring of only one employee for every three who left government service. H.R. 3029 has been placed on the House calendar; a House subcommittee has H.R. 3487 and the Senate bill remains in committee.
H. R. 1779 would prohibit the head of any executive branch agency from hiring in any year in which OMB projects a federal budget deficit. It remains in the hands of a House subcommittee.
S. 1611 would allow the replacement of three employees who leave federal service by one new employee. It is in committee.
H.R. 3494 would reduce the size of the federal workforce to no more than that of Oct. 7, 2007. The bill is in a House subcommittee.
H.R. 3662 would allow the hiring of one employee for every three who leave federal service. It is in the hands of several House committees with jurisdiction over various parts of it.
S. 178 would, among many other actions, limit the size of the federal workforce and extend the pay freeze through 2015.
S. 261 would cut workers’ compensation payments for older federal employees. Senate committee hearings on this bill have been conducted. Further action is pending.
H.R. 87 and S. 712 would repeal the financial regulatory reform bill strongly supported by NTEU. Both bills are pending either in committee or subcommittee.