House Passes Budget Resolution Calling for $32 Billion in Benefit Cuts

Posted by Bob Levi on 10/10/17
On Thursday, October 5, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution that instructs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to cut $32 billion from programs under its jurisdiction. (These proposed cuts are known as reconciliation instructions.) Although the bill, H.Con.Res. 71, does not identify the programs to be cut, the only programs that yield such savings include the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Cutting strategies could include imposing retiree COLA cuts, raising the employee FERS contributions, changing the formula for calculating CSRS and FERS benefits, reducing the earnings of the TSP G-Fund, increasing retiree FEHBP premium contributions, and eliminating the FERS supplement for pre-65 annuitants. H.Con.Res. 71 narrowly passed the House with a 219-206 majority. 18 Republicans voted NO and no Democrats voted YES. A record of the actual votes can be linked through the House Clerk's Website.

The Senate is presently considering its own budget resolution, which, as of yet, does not have a bill number, nor does it currently include instructions to cut federal and postal employee and retiree benefits. The Senate is likely to vote on its own budget during the week of October 16. It is important for UPMA members to call their U.S. Senators to oppose adding any reconciliation instructions to cut federal and postal employee health and retirement benefits.

Although H.Con.Res. 71 would not have the force of law, it sets the stage for an Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that would have the force of law and could radically modify UPMA member health retirement programs, resulting in benefit cuts. Cuts could be included in a reconciliation act if the House and Senate agree to such cuts. Such an agreement would be part of a negotiated agreement of a House-Senate Conference Committee. In the past, UPMA members could find comfort in a split Congress (i.e., House and Senate with different partisan majorities) for a semblance of security, or, as a last resort, a presidential veto. Obviously, this years is quite different. So, UPMA members should be prepared for battle.