Congress plays tug-of-war over federal benefits

Wednesday - 2/15/2012, 9:28pm EST

Your Turn with Mike Causey

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A House vote on a highway bill that increased federal pension contributions was supposed to be up for a vote this week but now will be pushed back because the offset is part of the legislation to extend the payroll tax cut.

"You can't use it in both places," said Julie Tagen, legislative director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees.

The provision in the transportation legislation is part of H.R.3813, which increases federal contributions to retirement benefits by 1.5 percent. It also eliminates the FERS supplement for people who retire before age 62.

Meanwhile, the conference committee debating the payroll tax cut extension is looking at increasing federal employees' pension contributions by 1.2 percent.

The highway bill will be taken up after the President's Day break, Tagen said.

"NARFE believes in a shared sacrifice, and if it's going to have to be part of the deficit ... I think federal employees would agree to be part of it," Tagen said. "But the problem is [Congress is] not asking anyone else to give anything. It's just federal employees and retirees down the road."

Tagen likened the series of bills targeting pay and benefits to a game of Whac-A-Mole.

"It's one bad proposal after another," she said.

Today is NARFE's National Call Congress Day. The organization is urging federal employees and retirees to call their representatives. (You can call the Capitol switchboard at (866)220-0044.)

Federal Times Editor Steve Watkins and Senior Writer Sean Reilly join host Mike Causey to talk about the upcoming House-Senate super committee report.