President Trump recently proposed new changes to the federal employee retirement system in his 2020 budget request. Now members of Congress are saying the bill would be “dead on arrival.”

But for Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the retirement system for existing federal employees shouldn’t change. However, Lankford thinks benefits for future employees should be altered. In a video message to members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), Lankford said, “I want you to know that our focus has been on getting those changes made for prospective new hires, not for people who are currently in the system. For all of you who have been faithfully serving, you came in with a promise and with a standard of what would be there for you, and we want to make sure that’s maintained.”

Lankford is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which has explored challenges with the current federal hiring process and gaps in training for managers, though its members haven’t done much from a legislative perspective to fix the issue.

Lankford said, “We do have to look at the long-term fiscal health for all taxpayers for the federal government, so we are trying to look long term for new hires. What might that look like for them?”

Democrats on the other side of the aisle have been vocal about their dissent for the bill. Sen. Mark Warner told NARFE members, “You have a laundry list this long of activities that, frankly, are unfair, are wrong [and] don’t make sense in terms of our current workforce or the commitment that we owe you as retirees. The only good news is, the President’s budget has a half-life of negative time. It is dead on arrival, and will not become law in any fashion.”

The President’s proposal wants to either eliminate or cut the following things:

  • The special supplement for participants in the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) who are statutorily forced to retire before reaching Social Security eligibility
  • The annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for FERS
  • The COLA formula for participants in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)

The proposal also seeks to use the average of an employee’s highest five years of salary instead of the highest three years of salary to determine retirement benefits. Federal employee contributions would also be increased by 1% each year.

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