House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is releasing a budget blueprint for the federal government next Tuesday, March 20, and it is expected to include proposed cuts to the federal workforce.
One of the goals of the budget will be to avoid defense spending cuts mandated by sequestration. This has been a primary goal of Republicans who have said they want to keep defense off of the negotiating table.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that further defense cuts would be devastating. Speaking recently in Louisville, Kentucky, Panetta said, “Additional deficit reduction must be made through a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction plan, which will involve making decisions not just on defense but on every other area of federal spending and revenue.”
In other words, no more defense cuts. So if cuts to defense are off the table, that means cuts have to be made elsewhere to come up with savings.
Readers may recall a couple of past legislation proposals that would directly affect federal employees.
One was introduced back in December by Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA). It was called the Down Payment to Protect National Security Act and would impose a 10% reduction in the federal workforce through attrition and then apply the savings to pay for one year of sequestration for both defense and non-defense categories. A 10% reduction will be achieved over 10 years by only hiring one federal employee for every three who retire.
A bill introduced on the Senate side in February did something similar. Known as the Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012, the proposal would extend the pay freeze on federal employees through June 2014 and also would restrict hiring to only two employees for every three leaving until the size of the federal workforce is reduced by 5%. The freeze would also apply to members of Congress.
The National Journal is reporting that the forthcoming budget proposal is expected to contain some aspects of either one of these two proposed bills. And that would mean that federal workers can expect more proposed cuts in one form or another.
Until the Ryan budget proposal is released we won’t know any specific details, but FedSmith.com will continue to keep you updated as we know more.