Back for More: Senate GOP Targets Federal Pay, Retirement and Annuity Supplement for Cuts to Delay Sequester


Congressional Republicans did not waste much time targeting the federal workforce for cuts since the 113th Congress was seated this January. We have already seen bills to freeze pay, slash the workforce, and eliminate overtime. Now, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is throwing her hat in the ring with a new measure to avoid the sequester on the back of federal employees.

The proposal, expected to be released today, calls for extending the federal pay freeze through 2014, quadrupling the amount FERS employees pay toward their pensions over three years, and eliminating the FERS annuity supplement for new hires. Making matters worse, these proposed changes would only delay the sequester for one year, meaning federal employees would be subject to less pay and benefits in addition to 9 years of subsequent sequestration cuts.

“Here we go again. Rather than proposing a serious solution to sequestration, Senator Ayotte and her GOP colleagues have chosen to dust off well-worn attacks on federal employees that do nothing to fix the problem,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan in a statement following the measure’s release. “Federal employees have already endured over two years of frozen pay and an increase in retirement contributions that will save the government $103 billion over the next decade. When is enough, enough?”

If passed into law, Ayotte’s proposal would bring the pay freeze to a total of four years, doubling the initial period. It would also reduce workers’ take-home pay by 2.3 percent since they would be required to pay that amount their pension. Despite the desired increase in pension contributions, Ayotte’s measure holds benefits at the same level. This means that every federal employee would have to sacrifice more take-home pay to receive the exact same benefit they are currently receiving. Furthermore, the FERS annuity supplement which many federal retirees rely on to get by would be outright eliminated for federal workers hired after year’s end. All of this to delay the sequester for just one year.

“Serious problems call for serious solutions, and the Senator’s proposal falls well short of that measure,” said Dougan. “The Federal Employee Retirement System is fully funded and federal salaries have shrunken faster than any time in recent memory. What good will it do to punish them even more? Congress cannot keep coming to back to the federal employee well every time they fail to do their jobs. The well is dry.”

With the March 1st sequestration implementation deadline just a day away, and furlough notices just days/weeks away from being issued at most agencies, it is critical that federal workers fight back. There are more sensible ways to avoid devastating sequestration cuts – solutions that recognize the substantial contribution federal employees have already made to reduce the deficit.

“We send our elected officials to Washington to govern – not to grandstand,” said Dougan. “The American people aren’t asking for Congress to cut the pay and benefits of doctors and nurses caring for our veterans; they’re not asking for Congress to deprive the Defense civilians supporting our armed forces overseas. So why are they doing exactly that? When convenient politics trump good policy, it’s the American people that lose.”

Do your part to stop this measure from becoming law. Do your part to prevent sequestration and furloughs. Call your members of Congress using the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (on your own time, using your own phone) and tell them to find real solutions to sequestration.