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Shows & Panels
Even as mystery surrounds the work of the House-Senate budget committee negotiating over fiscal 2014 funding levels and possible alternatives to devastating across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, there's consensus emerging about some of the potential bargaining chips the committee is likely to use. That includes requiring federal workers to contribute more of their salaries toward their pensions.
Automatic spending cuts largely barked about this year might bite in 2014
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, took to the Senate floor this week calling on House-Senate budget negotiators to look at replacing the across-the-board sequestration cuts for at least two years.
A coalition of more than two dozen federal-employee unions and advocacy groups is calling on budget negotiators to come up with a way to undo the across-the-board sequestration budget cuts that are poised to slash agency spending by billions more this year. But following three years of a pay freeze and the recent 16-day government shutdown, the groups are equally adamant that changes to federal employees' pay and benefits should be off the table.
When House and Senate lawmakers kicked off formal budget negotiations this week for the first time since the government shutdown ended, both Republicans and Democrats said replacing sequestration, the blunt across-the-board budget cuts, with an alternative plan would be a top priority. The sticking point remains how to pay for it. Federal-employee unions and advocacy groups fear federal pay and benefits will once again be on the table.
For the first time since the government shutdown ended two weeks ago, House and Senate lawmakers are sitting down at the table to negotiate about the fiscal 2014 budget. At the top of the agenda will be what to do about the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration that have ensnared what remained of the traditional budget process this year. However, budget experts and insiders say sequestration is likely to stick around -- at least in some form -- and about the best agencies can hope for is a small-bore deal that grants them some greater flexibility in implementing the cuts, these experts said.
House Democrats have crafted their own plan to temporarily fund federal agencies when the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee announced Thursday he plans to introduce a Democratic alternative to the GOP continuing resolution that would replace automatic budget constraints set to continue into fiscal 2014.
Congress returns to work today with a crowded agenda and little time. Lawmakers must come to agreement on 2014 funding before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 or risk a government shutdown. Also on the agenda: coming up with an alternative to the automatic spending constraints known as sequestration and negotiating a raise in the government's borrowing limit. There are also other measures affecting federal employees that remain to be worked out, including legislation to overhaul the cash-strapped Postal Service and a potential 1 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers.
A bevy of issues has piled up on lawmakers' to-do list, including fiscal 2014 funding and a pay raise for federal employees. But they don't have much time to act. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), whose district includes many federal employees and contractors, tells Federal News Radio the climate of uncertainty is having a negative impact on both groups.
Ever hear the old saying that bad things come in threes? It's been around a long time, and it often seems to work out that way. Bad news, bad weather, whatever. Unless you happen to work for the federal government, in which case, make that bad news comes as a foursome, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says.
Top officials at the Treasury Department and the General Services Administration say budget cuts being considered by House lawmakers - and that have since adopted by the House Appropriations Committee - would erode their agencies' missions. In sharply divided vote mostly along partisan lines Wednesday, the committee approved the fiscal 2014 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel put the ball in Congress' court this week when he released details of how the Pentagon would manage billions of dollars in cuts if sequestration continues into fiscal 2014 and beyond. But, there's not yet anything close to a winning strategy in Congress to avert or replace the automatic budget cuts.
When you're on a vacation trip or long drive, do your kids keep asking "Are we there yet?!" Now, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says, suppose you are Uncle Sam and you've told your 1.8 million kids they are going on a sequestration vacation. If they keep asking are we there yet, what do you tell them?
The top lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee have called on the Defense Department to detail how it will cut billions more from its budget if sequestration continues into next year. In a letter dated May 2, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the committee, asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to provide a "package of reductions" to the department's proposed 2014 budget.
The White House budget office is recalculating how to apply automatic spending cuts for a handful of agencies, freeing up almost $4 billion for the Pentagon and another $1 billion or so for other agencies like the Homeland Security Department and NASA.
Reid: Senate Democrats to ease sequester cuts with war savings
Obama to return 5 percent of his salary _ sharing pain of budget cuts with furloughed workers
The Office of Management and Budget has directed agencies to take full advantage of the funding flexibilities they have under law as they implement across-the-board sequestration cuts, that went into effect March 1. In an April 4 memo, OMB Controller Danny Werfel also directed agency and department leaders to be mindful of certain types of performance awards and to work with agency inspectors general before making cuts to IG offices.
Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says she'll introduce a bill next week that would subject Congressional salaries to any future automatic, across-the-board cuts like those that took effect last month.
House Republicans pillory Obama administration over preparations for mandatory budget cuts