A group of Senators have filed four amendments to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget resolution that have direct applicability to federal employees and contractors.
The Four Amendments
The first amendment would establish a scorekeeping rule to ensure that increased contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are not used to offset provisions that increase the deficit. It is meant to prevent higher FERS contributions from going to other, unrelated congressional spending.
“Congress has repeatedly increased the required federal employee contribution rate without offering any additional benefit. Combined with years of pay freezes, the increased requirements have resulted in de facto pay cuts for thousands of hardworking federal employees,” said a press release on the amendments.
The second amendment would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund meant to preserve retirement security for federal workers. It reads:
The Chair of the Committee on the Budget of the Senate may revise the allocations of a committee or committees, aggregates, and other appropriate levels in this resolution, and make adjustments to the pay-as-you-go ledger, for one or more bills, joint resolutions, amendments, amendments between the Houses, motions, or conference reports related to preserving federal civilian service employees’ retirement security, which may include funding measures or other measures addressing the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System, by the amounts provided in such legislation for those purposes, provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2020 through 2024 or the period of the total of fiscal years 2020 through 2029.
The third amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to provide back pay to service contractors affected by the recent partial government shutdown. This amendment would put the Senate on the record in support of making federal contractors whole for the shutdown. This is something that has been pushed in legislation that has been introduced recently in Congress but has yet to advance.
The fourth amendment would protect federal workers’ retirement benefits by striking a provision in the draft budget that could cut federal employees’ benefits by at least $15 billion. It does not directly state which provision in the 2020 budget proposal it is referencing, but there are several proposals in the White House’s budget blueprint that would amount to benefits cuts, such as increasing the employee’s share of costs under FERS, eliminating the special retirement supplement, and reducing or eliminating cost of living adjustments (COLA).
The amendments were introduced by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
“Our federal workers and federal contract employees provide crucial services to the American people. These amendments will protect the hard-earned paychecks and benefits of our federal employees and help secure back pay for contract workers harmed by the government shutdown,” said Van Hollen.