WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) led a group of Senators in calling on Senate leaders to protect federal employee retirement benefits from further cuts, as proposed by the Trump Administration’s FY 18 budget request. The President’s proposal calls for $149 billion in cuts from federal employees and retirees, including a raise in Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) contributions from employees and the reduction or elimination of cost-of-living-adjustments. Nearly one-third of permanent career federal employees will be eligible for retirement by 2019.
“These proposed changes, if enacted, would significantly harm the retirement plans that our federal employees have made over the course of decades in public service. In addition, they would further hamper the federal government’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent, particularly when we are concerned about brain drain in critical areas of our civilian workforce,” the Senators wrote.
Since 2010 federal employees have been singled-out as part of budget negotiations and deficit reduction efforts. In 2013, over 750,000 federal employees were furloughed due to sequestration, costing over $1 billion in lost wages in that year alone.
Joining Sens. Warner and Kaine in the letter were Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“While our fiscal situation requires serious solutions, we strongly believe that these solutions should not disproportionately impact current or retired federal employees, and that our public servants should be able to expect certainty in being able to provide for their families, regardless of the political gamesmanship that too often impedes thoughtful policy debate. As such, we would urge you to oppose efforts to include these drastic cuts in legislation considered by the Senate or to balance the budget on the backs of federal employees,” added the Senators.
The text of the letter follows: