Republican lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would cut the size of the federal workforce to prevent sequestration cuts set to take place later this year.
The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2013 would pay for one year of defense and non-defense sequestration by requiring a reduction in the federal workforce through attrition and a pay freeze for Members of Congress.
The legislation would make this down payment by requiring a government-wide reduction in the number of federal employees by 10 percent through attrition. This would allow federal agencies to hire 1 person for every 3 who leave their employment through attrition.
Additionally, the legislation would freeze pay for Members of Congress for any year in which there is a federal budget deficit.
This hiring limitation would occur at the agency level and is not an across the board reduction within agencies, giving the Department of Defense the freedom to best protect our military readiness and high demand workers like those at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
This hiring limitation may be waived for a national security concern or extraordinary emergency.
The legislation is being reintroduced in the Senate by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and companion legislation is being put forth in the House by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA).
Senator Ayotte’s Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2013 would pay for the first year of sequestration by achieving approximately $85 billion in savings – sufficient to pay for both defense and non-defense accounts.
Speaking on the legislation, Ayotte said, “We’re already feeling the effects of sequestration in New Hampshire, where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and our defense suppliers are bracing for these cuts,” said Senator Ayotte. “We can prevent the first year of sequestration without raising taxes. The legislation I’m introducing today does just that by replacing these reductions with common sense savings found elsewhere in the federal budget.”
McKeon added, “The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2013 would prevent a further round of cuts in Fiscal Year 2013 from hitting our military as a result of sequestration, beyond the $46 billion reduction already imposed over the last two years as part of the President’s budget-driven defense strategy. The President’s first round of cuts significantly reduced military end strength, impacted force readiness, and curtailed modernization. Another round of cuts required as a result of full sequestration would devastate our Armed Forces.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) represents a district with many federal employee constituents and was unimpressed with the proposed legislation. He said, “By continuing their ongoing attack on federal employees, Republicans are undercutting our ability to recruit and retain the strong federal workforce our nation needs and deserves. If Republicans are serious about avoiding the sequester, they should abandon these political games that target those who defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, and fulfill so many vital services our communities rely on.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), who is also a frequent advocate for the federal workforce, added, “Sequestration is a self-imposed punishment following the failure of Congress to arrive at a balanced compromise for deficit reduction. The legislation offered today is just one more example of congressional Republicans attempting to place the brunt of deficit reduction on the backs of our federal workforce. Federal employees did not create the national debt – they should not be required to shoulder the burden of reducing it alone.”
Federal employee unions were also predictably upset over the proposal. NTEU national president Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement, “Everyone agrees that sequestration is terrible policy. Plans to implement it on March 1 should be abandoned, but doing so with a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce is foolhardy and would result in short staffing that could last for a decade.”