Senate Approves Defense Bill Including Workforce Cuts, Contractor Pay Caps
The Senate this week approved its version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations measure to fund next year’s Defense activities. The controversial bill included a civilian workforce reduction of 5% and a cap on contractor executive salaries. Supported by a unanimous 98-0 vote, the bill now moves on to a House-Senate conference committee to hammer out differences with the House version and develop a final proposal.
Introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the most concerning provision in the bill would reduce the size of the defense civilian workforce by 5% over a five year period. The bill does not provide specifics on where the job cuts will take place, instead leaving it to DoD to determine. A similar provision was excluded from the House version of the bill, leaving hope that this harmful policy will be left out of the final bill.
One bright spot in the bill was a much-needed cap on out-of-control contractor salary reimbursements, which rose to nearly $770,000 this year. Introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the provision would lower the current cap to $230,700 per year – the same as the Vice President of the United States. This change was a step in the right direction, but it was not enough to redeem the workforce cuts.
“This bill is taking us one step forward and two steps backward,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “Placing a cap on exorbitant contractor executive salaries is a common sense solution to reducing our deficit – arbitrary cuts to federal jobs is not.”
NFFE and other unions are working the remove the workforce reduction provision as the House and Senate work toward a final bill.
“We are going to do everything we can to get this harmful workforce cut out of the final Defense bill,” said NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “This language was hastily slipped into the Senate version of the bill during markup, and there was little that could be done at that point. But conference committee is a different story. We will have very strong opposition to this provision during conference. Nonetheless, we need every Defense worker to weigh in with their lawmakers and urge them to oppose this senseless workforce cut.”