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Home Local Maryland Government Announcement Originally published December 06, 2013

CARDIN URGES MAJORITY LEADER REID TO LEAVE FEDS ALONE IN BUDGET DEAL TO END SEQUESTRATION



CARDIN URGES MAJORITY LEADER REID TO LEAVE FEDS ALONE IN

 

BUDGET DEAL TO END SEQUESTRATION

 

“No other group of predominantly middle class Americans has contributed to deficit reduction

 

the way federal workers have.”

 

 

WASHINGTON – Saying clearly that “federal workers have sacrificed enough,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) urging him to abide by budget agreements made last year that “federal workers would not serve as a ‘piggybank’ again, especially for shorter term budget deals.”

 

Senator Cardin, who has been tasked by Majority Leader Reid to keep the Democratic Caucus apprised of matters concerning the federal workforce, was specific in his request: “… in any budget agreement, there should be no further erosion in federal workers’ compensation or benefits, even in exchange for a limited respite from sequestration, however desirable that goal is.

 

Totally more than $115 billion, federal workers have contributed enough to end our fiscal crisis through multi-year pay freezes, furloughs and budget cuts, Senator Cardin said. “No other group of predominantly middle class Americans has contributed to deficit reduction the way federal workers have.  This relentless attack isn’t just devastating to morale; it’s hurting our country and the economy,” he warned in his letter. The impact goes well beyond the National Capital Region. 

 

The full text of the letter follows and is available at this link. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report is available here.

 

 

 

The Honorable Harry Reid

S-221, The Capitol

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

 

December 6, 2013

 

The Honorable Harry Reid

S-221, The Capitol

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Mr. Leader:

 

I must tell you, in all candor that I am outraged by reports that one option being considered in the Budget Conference Committee is to increase the payroll contribution federal workers make to their defined benefit pensions.  No other group of predominantly middle class Americans has contributed to deficit reduction the way federal workers have.  This relentless attack isn’t just devastating to workforce morale; it’s hurting our country and our economy.  I urge our caucus to endorse the proposition that in any budget agreement, there should be no further erosion in federal workers’ compensation or benefits, even in exchange for a limited respite from sequestration, however desirable that goal is.

 

Earlier this year, you asked that I bring to the attention of our caucus matters of concern for federal workers.  Previously, I shared with the caucus detailed State-by-State demographic information my staff prepared documenting that federal workers are predominantly middle class and, relative to the private sector workforce, disproportionately likely to be female, minority, veterans, or – especially – disabled veterans.  Most recently, I asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to prepare a memorandum documenting recent changes to federal workers’ pay and benefits.  I am attaching the preliminary CRS memorandum, Recent Changes to Federal Employee Pay and Retirement Benefits in Support of Deficit Reduction.

 

The CRS memorandum outlines the numerous blows federal workers have absorbed.  To put the matter bluntly, federal workers have sacrificed enough, to the tune of nearly $100 billion under the three-year pay freeze currently in effect.  As the CRS memorandum details, the basic pay adjustment during the freeze should have been 0.9 percent in 2011, 1.1 percent in 2012, and 1.2 percent this year.  Bear in mind that adjustments made under the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act are pegged to annual changes in the Employment Cost Index (ECI) – minus 0.5 percent.  So even when annual adjustments are made – and they haven’t been since 2010 – federal workers fall further behind their private sector counterparts in pay comparability.

 

On top of the pay freeze, new hires bore the brunt of paying for the last extension of emergency unemployment insurance (UI), providing $15.5 billion as an offset for what traditionally and rightfully has been emergency spending.  The agreement last year was that federal workers would not serve as a “piggybank” again, especially for shorter term budget deals.

 

The $115 billion mentioned above does not include pay lost to furloughs under the sequestration.  And we are just a few weeks removed from the shutdown, during which some federal employees were forced to work without being paid on time while others were idled against their wishes and worried whether they would be paid at all.  And all the while, fewer federal workers with fewer resources are being asked to do more and more while safeguarding our borders, skies, ports, and streets; finding cures for diseases like cancer and diabetes; ensuring that drugs and our food supply are safe; bolstering our manufacturing competitiveness and energy security; and protecting our interests and promoting our values abroad.

 

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help withstand this latest assault on the patriotic and hard-working Americans who have devoted their lives to public service.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

                                                                        Benjamin L. Cardin

                                                                        United States Senator