9 Republicans Draft Letter To House Leaders Over Federal Retirement Systems Concerns
President Donald Trump’s 2018 economic budget request is facing opposition with at least nine House Republicans due to the major changes he’s seeking for the federal retirement system.
His changes would affect both present and future employees and retirees.
The June 17 letter was signed by Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Barbara Cornstock (R-Va.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Chris Smith (R-N.J), Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and sent to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
What Republicans Wrote To House Leaders
In the letter, the nine Republicans wrote they were concerned about the proposal’s breaking of a promise to federal employees and retirees who have developed a career plan on the age-old guarantee of benefit calculations. They said the employees and retirees, as well as their family, shouldn’t be treated in such a manner.
Their opposition letter follows the 100 House Democrats opposition letter that was sent to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Ryan.
Republicans are concerned that the budget proposal is aimed solely at the federal workforce and would make it harder to hire and keep the most qualified. Trump’s 2018 economic budget would impact federal retirement in four ways:
- Force employee’s to contribute 1% more every year for six years, equating to a 6% increase.
- Abolish the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for present and impending Federal Employee Retirement system and reduce Civil Service Retirement System participants COLA by 0.5%.
- Remove supplemental payments to employees retiring before the age of 62.
- Base future retirement benefits on an average of the highest five years of salary, rather than three-years.
The Trump administration said these changes would lead to a cost savings of over $4.1 billion for 2018 and $149 billion for the next ten years. It would also ensure the private sector and federal retirement package are similar.
According to the nine Republicans, the budget proposals are nothing new. The letter states that recycling these proposals is both disruptive and demoralizing to the middle-class working in the federal government.
However, Democrats feel the Republicans’ letter is not enough. House Democrats have been extremely transparent about any language that leads to changes with the federal retirement and have urged Pelosi and Ryan not to permit any proposal that would have a negative impact. Republicans said they were just voicing their concerns about the changes.
However, Republicans have agreed on a number of arguments Democrats and federal employees unions have brought forth that have led to savings of $182 billion since 2010. These arguments include:
- Three years of pay freezes for federal employees
- Increase in retirement contributions
Republicans said they know what kind of deficit the country faces and doesn’t need to be reminded of it. However, it’s the federal employees that are being targeted, and they have repeatedly been subjected to changes.
According to the National Treasury Employees Unions, they were happy to see Republicans make their dissent known about the retirement proposals.
Tony Reardon, NTEU National President, said the organization was pleased with those House members for publicly standing up for federal employees in the nation – ones that are tired of being affected by the deficit crisis. He said the letter makes the House leadership aware that efforts to cut or abolish federal salaries and retirement would have significant resistance.