Mikulski Urges Conferees to Reject Draconian Increases to Federal Employees’ Retirement Contributions as Work on Budget Deal Continues

Barbara A. Mikulski - U.S. Senator for MarylandMikulski Urges Conferees to Reject Draconian Increases to Federal Employees’ Retirement Contributions as Work on Budget Deal Continues

Senator urges Budget Conference Committee to cancel sequester for two years and reject proposals to require federal employees to pay substantially more for their retirement

December 4, 2013

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today in a letter to Budget Conference Committee leaders Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called for a budget agreement that recognizes the value of federal employees by canceling sequester for at least two years and rejecting draconian proposals to require federal employees to pay substantially more for their retirement.

“Each and every day, federal employees stand up for America. But they are worried about their jobs and futures. Their pay has been frozen for three years. Many were furloughed this year because of sequester. During the shutdown, they were told to stay home, and their paychecks were late. Now, they are deeply troubled by proposals to require them to pay considerably more for their retirement. I value the service of federal employees, and I know how important these benefits are to these middle class families,” Senator Mikulski said. “I want federal employees to know that I am on their side. Federal employees have been undervalued and underappreciated for too long. That’s why I fought so hard to ensure that in January, federal employees can receive a modest one percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This will be the first COLA in four years and it is long overdue. To turn around and take 5.5 percent more out of their pockets to pay for the same retirement benefits is a cruel bait-and-switch for their compensation.”

Maryland is home to the headquarters of 20 major federal agencies, from the Social Security Administration to the Food and Drug Administration. More than 300,000 federal employees and retirees live and work in Maryland, serving the nation and serving the world.   Continue reading “Mikulski Urges Conferees to Reject Draconian Increases to Federal Employees’ Retirement Contributions as Work on Budget Deal Continues”

Congress avoids government shutdown

Congress avoids government shutdown

Hal Rogers is pictured. | AP Photo

‘We proved we can get complicated, hard things done,’ said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). | AP Photo

By DAVID ROGERS | 3/21/13 10:56 AM EDT

Congress approved and sent to the White House on Thursday a stopgap spending bill to avert any threat of a government shutdown next week and keep agencies funded through September in the wake of automatic cuts ordered under sequestration.

Final passage came on a 318-109 vote in the House, as top Republicans opted to embrace significant changes approved by the Senate on Wednesday rather than risk further delay.

The quick action is a major breakthrough for the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which found themselves kicked to the curb in the previous Congress as the entire budget process collapsed under the pressure of the 2012 elections.

The measure replaces the current continuing resolution with a much more updated alignment of appropriations for the last six months of the fiscal year. Overshadowed by the partisan fight now over taxes and entitlements, it redefines the landscape for sequestration and is the closest thing to a real budget that Congress will have produced for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

“We proved we can get complicated hard things done and that’s what this bill does,” said House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). Despite harsh criticism from old friends on the left, New York Rep. Nita Lowey, the committee’ top Democrat, gave her support in what amounted to a pledge of good faith with the changes made by the Senate.

“Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman [Barbara] Mikulski and I were in constant contact throughout the negotiations,” Lowey told her party. “And I am satisfied that she got the best deal she could at this time.”

The biggest dollar impact will be at the Pentagon, where billions are moved about to help the military services cope with depleted operations accounts. But on the nondefense side of the budget, the bill makes scores of changes as well, including new initiatives that run from investments in a polar icebreaker and cybersecurity to aid to Syrian rebels and improved embassy security overseas.

Powerful interests rode this same train, even as President Barack Obama paid a price for his diffidence toward the appropriations process.

The White House failed to get added money it wanted to implement health care and Wall Street reforms. At the same time, Monsanto, large meat packers and pro-gun forces — with strong Republican help — won special interest legislative provisions attached to the package, which fills close to 600 pages.

Most important for many liberal Democrats, the bill leaves in place the machinery of sequestration that took effect March 1. Indeed, the $1.043 trillion allocated across the government in the bill is closer to $984 billion once those cuts are factored into the equation.

Taking the floor after Lowey, a longtime ally, had spoken, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) emotionally appealed to Democrats to do the opposite of what Lowey recommended and vote no in a last stand against sequestration.

“You don’t have to support this resolution and sequestration to avoid a shutdown,” DeLauro said, and then went on to recite a checklist of the consequences of the automatic cuts. “If you vote for this resolution you are voting to undermine the Affordable Care Act. … You are voting to cut $400 million from Head Start. …”

Most significantly, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a veteran of the Appropriations panel like her friends Lowey and DeLauro, came down on the New Yorker’s side in this fight. And as a party, Democrats split 115-82 for the package — more than enough to overcome the relatively modest defections Rogers faced on his side of the aisle.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/congress-avoids-government-shutdown-89180.html#ixzz2ODzAnlSf

Budget Sequester: Environmental Effects Could Include Layoffs And Regulation Shortfalls

Budget Sequester: Environmental Effects Could Include Layoffs And Regulation Shortfalls

Posted: 03/01/2013 7:52 am EST

The federal budget sequester took effect on March 1 with a number of likely environmental impacts. With $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade and $85 billion through the end of the fiscal year in September, layoffs and difficulties in enforcing the nation’s environmental regulations are expected.

The National Parks Service is slated to lose over $100 million, which, according to Mother Jones, would also cost local economies millions of dollars in economic activity.

Disaster relief funding will also be impacted, explains Mother Nature Network. The White House said that funding for firefighting, along with state and local emergency management positions will be cut. Continue reading “Budget Sequester: Environmental Effects Could Include Layoffs And Regulation Shortfalls”

Senate Bill Upholds Pay Freeze

Senate Bill Upholds Pay Freeze

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP File Photo

Federal employees will not receive an across-the-board pay increase for 2013 under the Senate bill to keep the government open through the end of the fiscal year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee late Monday night unveiled its continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown after the current funding measure expires on March 27. It includes a provision, also in the House-passed CR, that maintains the current pay freeze for federal employees and lawmakers through Dec. 31, 2013. Continue reading “Senate Bill Upholds Pay Freeze”

Furlough Watch: Agency-by-Agency Impacts of Sequestration

Furlough Watch: Agency-by-Agency Impacts of Sequestration

  • March 5, 2013
Air traffic controllers are likely to be among the federal employees furloughed.
Air traffic controllers are likely to be among the federal employees furloughed. David Goldman/AP file photo

This report has been updated. 

The across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration now scheduled to hit in two days would have serious implications for federal workers, including mandatory unpaid furloughs for hundreds of thousands of employees, beginning in April. We have compiled a list of possible agency-by-agency effects, should Congress and President Obama fail to reach a deficit reduction agreement in time to avoid the cuts. We will update the list as more information becomes available. Please use the comment section below to let us know if you have additional information about your agency. Continue reading “Furlough Watch: Agency-by-Agency Impacts of Sequestration”