Sequestration Can’t Touch Certain Pay and Benefits

By Kellie Lunney

September 27, 2012

Way back in August 2011, a Maryland senator explained to a roomful of his constituents the benefits of an obscure budget procedure known as sequestration.

Democrat Ben Cardin held a town hall meeting with Census Bureau employees last summer in Suitland, Md., fielding questions from nervous feds on the issues du jour and how they would affect pay and benefits. The topics ranged from the debt ceiling; the then-looming government shutdown; the civilian pay freeze; proposals to increase feds’ pension contributions; and the deficit reduction options under consideration by the congressional super committee, now better known as the failure that could trigger sequestration.

During the town hall, Cardin pointed out that while the super committee could basically do whatever it wanted to in the name of deficit reduction, options were a lot more limited under sequestration as far as changes to federal pay, benefits and other programs exempt from the automatic, across-the-board governmentwide spending cuts. Cardin was one of the first lawmakers to rightly point out that, while sequestration is far from ideal for about 1,000 different reasons, at least there are some protections in place under the law for feds.

So, with a glass-half-full spirit, let’s recap. In the category of federal pay and benefits, which major programs are protected from spending cuts under sequestration?

Note: This is not an exhaustive list, but rather the highlights. Read this Congressional Research Service report for a more in-depth look at federal programs exempt from sequestration.

And, ICYMI: Check out our poll on sequestration preparations across government.

Oh, sequestration. You’ve emerged from the backwater of a little-known 1985 law named after a trio of former lawmakers (Gramm, Rudman and Hollings) to take center stage in 2012 and possibly wreak havoc in 2013. We’ll be watching.


By Kellie Lunney

September 27, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/pay-benefits-watch/2012/09/sequestration-cant-touch-certain-pay-and-benefits/58388/