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House Panel Approves Federal Pension Increase

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a pension hike for federal employees last week in a 19-15 vote, and the legislation now heads to the house Budget Committee for consideration.

Under the legislation, current federal employees would be required to pay 5 percent more toward their retirement over the next five years beginning in 2013. The increase would be adopted incrementally, with federal workers paying 1.5 percent more in 2013; 0.5 percent extra in 2014; and an additional 1 percent more annually in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Employees hired after 2012 would have to start contributing the extra 5 percent immediately.

Currently, federal workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) contribute 0.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions, while federal employees enrolled in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) contribute 7 percent. The bill would result in FERS employees contributing 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions, plus contributions to Social Security and their Thrift Savings Plan accounts, and CSRS employees contributing 12 percent by 2017.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the pension increase was created to help reduce the deficit. The budget resolution passed by the House asked the committee to create $79 billion in savings over the next ten years.

“Let’s make it perfectly clear,” he said, “reductions in federal pensions are not intended to reflect in any way on the hardworking men and women in the federal workforce.”

Several unions have expressed their criticisms of the legislation, which they characterize as another attack on federal employees’ pay and benefits.

“I can assure you that if Congress continues to cut federal employees’ pay and benefits, this country will be unable to attract or retain talented people in the federal government,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley in a letter to committee members.

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