Senators Renew Push for Mass Transit Benefit Fix

Susan Walsh/AP File Photo

A provision to fix the disparity between mass transit and parking subsidies for federal employees and commuters nationwide could be coming soon, but will require retroactive enforcement.

Lawmakers in the Senate introduced a bill Thursday to maintain the current levels of monthly tax subsidies provided to those who ride public transportation to work. Currently, that subsidy -- which maxes out at $245 per month -- is set to decrease by almost half on Jan. 1, to $130. The parking benefit will actually increase in 2014 by $5 to $250 per month.

With many senators already heading back home for the holidays, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., attempted a last-ditch effort before the Senate recessed for the year to pass the legislation by unanimous consent. His efforts were thwarted, however, by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who said the subsidy should go through the regular Senate order, including passage in the Finance Committee.

Schumer argued even those who do not use mass transportation should favor the tax incentive, as more people on busses and trains decongests the roads. He added the two parties “can usually find more agreement on tax breaks.”

With the House already adjourned for the year, the window for a benefit fix in time for uninterrupted subsidies had already closed. Schumer vowed to “continue [his] quest” when the Senate comes back in January, which was met with a glimmer of hope for bipartisan accord.

“I will certainly try to work with my colleague throughout this process,” Hatch said.

A retroactive fix, which Schumer called “harder but not impossible,” is not without precedent. A similar gap between mass transit and parking benefits also existed in 2012, but the disparity was rectified after the fact when Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act to stave off the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

That bill’s passage, however, created significant confusion over exactly how the benefit would be issued retroactively. Ultimately, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance for the steps both federal agencies and employees had to take to receive their subsidy.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, wrote a letter to every senator asking for immediate approval of the fix.

“Many of these [federal] employees, already subject to a three-year pay freeze, unpaid furlough days and higher retirement contributions, are struggling in the current economic climate, and a reduction in these benefits would impose an additional financial burden on them,” Kelley wrote. 

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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