Federal pension hike advances as part of House alternative to automatic cuts

Monday - 5/7/2012, 9:11pm EDT

A plan to avoid automatic cuts to discretionary federal agency spending, including to the Defense Department, advanced in the House, passing the budget committee and heading to the House floor for a vote later this week.

Among the $300 billion in alternative cuts approved by the committee, in a 21-9 party-line vote, is a provision requiring federal employees to pay more for their retirement benefits.

Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, introduced the Sequester Replacement Act of 2012 last week. It nullifies the across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, that were set in motion by last summer's Budget Control Act and the subsequent failure of the "supercommittee" to come up with an alternative deficit-reduction plan.

Also included in Ryan's sequestration alternative is a package of spending cuts that House Republicans are aiming to pass in a fast-track measure known as reconciliation.

That measure, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, contains cost-savings first identified by various House committees, including Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Way and Means.

The oversight committee's proposal, which cuts the deficit by $83 billion over 10 years, would gradually increase federal employees' pension contributions by 5 percent over five years. Federal workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System now pay 0.8 percent of their salaries toward their pensions while the government kicks in 11.7 percent. FERS employees also pay 6.2 percent toward Social Security. The committee's plan also eliminates for new hires a supplementary payment to feds who retire before they're eligible for Social Security.

The Agriculture Committee proposed cutting food stamps by $35.8 billion, in part, by restricting eligibility for the program. The Financial Services Committee proposed repealing parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law to save as much as $30 billion.

Click here for a list of all the proposed alternative cuts.

The Republican budget plan, which passed the House earlier this year, also called for upping federal workers' retirement contributions.

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