Congressman Proposes Legislation Mandating Two-Week Furloughs for Federal Workers


Late last week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced a bill that would subject federal workers to a two week furlough this coming year, a move he says will save the government $5.5 billion.

The bill, H.R. 6134, will make federal civilian employees subject to a non-consecutive two week furlough in 2011, correspondingly reduce appropriations for salaries and expenses for offices of the legislative branch, and provide a 10 percent reduction in pay for members of Congress. An exception is provided for national security or reasons relating to public health or safety, including law enforcement.

When the bill is read closely, however, it is clear that it is less about reducing the deficit and more about targeting federal employees for political gain. Though Coffman says he would reduce legislative salaries by 10%, he and his colleagues would still make a whopping $156,000 next year – not much of a sacrifice by any measure. For federal employees struggling to keep their heads above water, on the other hand, two weeks of furloughs could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“This is not a good-faith effort to reduce the deficit, not by a long shot,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “This is just another attempt to score political points on the back of America’s dedicated civil servants.”

Though this bill is Congress’ first attempt of the legislative session to furlough federal workers, certain members of Congress have been targeting federal employees for months. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Cynthia Loomis (R-Wyo) in the House and Tom Coburn in the Senate have each introduced bills that would cap or reduce either the pay or size of the federal workforce. Though none of these measures have passed, they are a clear sign that certain members of Congress will do whatever it takes to diminish the federal workforce.

“With the election coming up, we don’t expect these kinds of attacks to stop,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “Bashing federal employees is a winning political strategy for some in Congress, so they will do it regardless of whether or not their claims have merit.”