GOP Sequester Alternative Targets Federal Pay, Benefits

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., drafted the bill. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., drafted the bill. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

A Republican lawmaker will propose an alternative to sequestration Thursday, putting off the across-the-board spending cuts with a plan that targets federal employees’ pay and benefits.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., drafted the bill -- the 2013 Sequester Replacement and Spending Reduction Act -- which includes provisions to extend the federal pay freeze through 2014 and increase current employees’ pension contributions by 2.3 percent over three years.

The bill ends the government’s Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement for anyone hired after Dec. 31, 2013. The supplement temporarily boosts benefits for qualified retirees who are not yet eligible for Social Security benefits. In 2011, about half of all FERS retirees qualified for the supplement.  

Ayotte would eliminate cost of living adjustments for members of Congress if the Congressional Budget Office determines there is a budget deficit.

The bill also would reform unemployment insurance for wealthy individuals and target overpayments to Medicare and Medicaid, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget and overlapping federal programs. In addition, it seeks to reduce funding for the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The legislation stipulates that, without a 2013 budget, any bill voted on after April 15 must have a three-fifths majority in the House and Senate to become law.

Federal unions were quick to denounce the plan, saying the proposal was not serious.

“Here we go again,” National Federation of Federal Employees National President William R. Dougan said in a statement. “Rather than proposing a serious solution to sequestration, Senator Ayotte and her GOP colleagues have chosen to dust off well-worn attacks on federal employees that do nothing to fix the problem. Federal employees have already endured over two years of frozen pay and an increase in retirement contributions that will save the government $103 billion over the next decade. When is enough, enough?”

The legislation is similar to several attempts by lawmakers in both chambers to decrease the pay and benefits of federal employees in the name of deficit reduction. Most recently, the House voted to extend the current pay freeze for feds and lawmakers through the end of the year.

Some efforts, including requiring feds to contribute more to their pensions, are supported by many Republicans and Democrats. President Obama has called for increasing the amount feds put toward their retirement benefits.

Ayotte’s latest bill is different from the one she proposed earlier this month as a sequester alternative. That legislation, the 2013 Down Payment to Protect National Security Act, would cut the entire government workforce by 10 percent through attrition at an estimated savings of $85 billion over the next decade, replacing the sequester for one year. The bill would allow federal agencies to hire one person for every three employees who retire or leave their job. The hiring reduction likely would take place over the next four to five years, but the savings would be felt over the 10-year budget window.

Lawmakers have until March 1 to strike a deal to prevent about $85 billion in cuts to agencies governmentwide. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.