Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas late last week introduced the 2011 Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending Act (H.R. 235), which supports recommendations from President Obama's fiscal commission charged with reforming federal spending. Panel leaders in November 2010 unveiled a draft series of proposals to curtail government spending. The final plan, released on Dec. 1, did not pass a commission vote.
The bill would reduce spending by $153 billion over five years, according to Brady.
"Our nation's budget is out of control. We need to take strong actions today to get it back on track," he said in a statement. "Both Republicans and Democrats on the deficit commission agreed these cuts need to be made, so let's make a down payment on restoring our nation to a balanced budget and leaner government."
The legislation includes provisions reducing the government workforce by 10 percent, or 200,000 employees, by hiring two workers for every three who leave. And it would hold level civilian pay at all agencies, including the Defense Department, for three years. Federal employees already are facing a two-year salary freeze.
The measure also would cut Defense's fiscal 2011 procurement budget by 15 percent and eliminate wasteful spending on nonessential federal travel by cutting 20 percent of nondefense-, nonsecurity- and nonemergency-related costs at each agency.
In language independent of the deficit commission's recommendations, Brady's bill would require the Internal Revenue Service to collect $962 million in unpaid taxes from nearly 100,000 federal civilian employees. Factoring in retirees and military personnel, savings would jump to $3 billion. The proposal does not, however, go as far as recent legislation to fire federal workers with tax debt.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley criticized the bill, which she said would leave agencies understaffed and underfunded.
"This legislation includes draconian measures that undermine the federal workforce," Kelley said. "This bill would reduce federal agencies' abilities to meet their missions and would likely result in administrative delays, fewer staff to handle increasing workloads, longer phone waits and lines, and fewer resources to handle everything from food safety to social security disability claims."