What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander
Chairman Ross to Hold Hearing on Ending Pension Privileges for Members of Congress and Reforming Federal Pensions to Protect the Taxpayer
Washington, Jan 20 –
Lakeland, FL – Congressman Dennis A. Ross (R-FL) today announced he would hold a hearing on reforming Congressional pensions and ensuring that Members of Congress are treated no differently than the rest of the federal workforce. In addition, the hearing will explore options in reforming the entire federal pension system, Congress included, to bring it more in line with the private sector workforce.
Special Note: None of the reforms would affect or reduce veterans or military pensions.
Wednesday – January 25, 2012
2203 Rayburn HOB
Upon announcing the hearing, Congressman Ross said, “Since I was elected in 2010, whenever asked by constituents what the greatest challenge facing this Congress is, I always answer ‘credibility.’ The American people rightfully demand in their elected Representatives a willingness to live under the laws they pass. They are tired of the perks and hypocrisy they witness in their Congress. As representatives of the people we serve, Congress should live under the same rules as everyone else.”
Congressman Ross went on to say, “The American people are also, rightfully, outraged by the pension benefits guaranteed to a bloated federal workforce, paid for through an ever increasing tax burden on the American worker. Too many hard working Americans watched their pensions evaporate because of unsustainable promises. There is a way to ensure value to the taxpayer and security to the worker, both private and public sector, through a more affordable defined contribution pension system. As Congress looks for ways to cut costs, pension reform that ensures a positive return to the worker while delivering cost savings to the taxpayer, should be job one.”
Contrary to chain emails and popular belief, Congress does not receive 100% of their salary as a pension for life, upon serving one term in Congress. Not even close. However, Members of Congress receive better pension benefits than the rest of the federal workforce, and better than most citizens in the private sector.
In addition, federal civilian retirement obligations cost taxpayers more than $100 billion per year for current federal employees with costs rising 151% since 2000. In addition, the federal civilian retirement system is estimated to have $673 billion in unfunded potential liabilities.
The first panel in the hearing will focus on options in moving the entire federal workforce, Congress included, to a more realistic and cost affordable defined contribution pension system as opposed to the bankrupting defined benefit plan. The first panel includes:
Mr. Charles “Chuck” Grimes, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Dr. Andrew Biggs, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
Mr. Pete Sepp, Executive Vice President, National Taxpayers Union
TBD, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), on behalf of the Federal-Postal Coalition
The second panel will focus specifically on Congressional pensions and will include six Members of Congress with legislation seeking to address the problem (bill descriptions below). The second panel includes:
The Honorable Howard Coble (NC-06)
The Honorable Mike Coffman (CO-06)
The Honorable Robert J. Dold (IL-10)
The Honorable Tim Griffin (AR-02)
The Honorable Richard B. Nugent (FL-05)
The Honorable Robert T. Schilling (IL-17)
The Congressional panel legislation is as follows:
H.R.981, Congress is Not a Career Act
Sponsor: Rep. Rich Nugent
Related Bills: (None)
Summary: Allows Members of Congress the option to decline benefits afforded through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) regardless of when they have been elected.
3/9/2011: Referred to House Administration
3/9/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform
H.R.2162, Congressional Integrity and Pension Forfeiture Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Robert Dold
Related Bills: (S.1261)
Summary: Extends provisions requiring forfeiture of pension benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) to the President, Vice President, or an elected state or local government official, in addition to Members of Congress, upon conviction of a serious public corruption crime. Expands the list of such crimes that require pension forfeiture.
6/14/2011: Referred to House Administration
6/14/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform
6/20/2011: Referred to Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy
H.R.2397, Congressional Retirement Age Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Schilling
Related Bills: S.742 (Sen Brown, Sherrod)
Summary: Prohibits a Member of Congress serving on or after the enactment of this Act from being eligible for an annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), unless he or she is separated from the service after attaining retirement age under the Social Security Act and completing five years of service. Denies an early retirement annuity under FERS to any Member serving on or after enactment of this Act who otherwise meets FERS early retirement requirements. Delays entitlement to a FERS annuity until after attaining retirement age under the Social Security Act.
6/24/2011: Referred to House Administration
6/24/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform
6/30/2011: Referred to Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy
H.R.2652 (12 year vesting requirement for Members)
Sponsor: Rep. Coble, Howard
Related Bills: (None)
Summary: Requires that Members must complete 12 years of creditable service in order to be vested in an annuity under the Federal Employee Retirement System.
7/26/2011: Referred to House Administration
7/26/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform
H.R.2913 (Terminates Members of Congress coverage in the FERS and CSRS)
Sponsor: Rep. Coffman, Mike
Related Bills: (H.R.3480)
Summary: Amends the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) to exclude Members of Congress, except the Vice President, from further CSRS and FERS retirement coverage. Prohibits further government contributions or deductions from such Member’s basic pay for deposit in the Treasury to the credit of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Does not affect either Members’ CSRS benefits for any period before enactment of the Act or the eligibility of any Member to participate in the TSP.
9/14/2011: Referred to House Administration
9/14/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform
10/3/2011: Referred to Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and Labor Policy
H.R.3480, End Pensions in Congress Act
Sponsor: Rep Griffin, Tim
Related Bills: (H.R.2913)
Summary: Amends the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) to exclude Members of Congress, except the Vice President, from further CSRS and FERS retirement coverage. Does not affect either Members’ CSRS benefits for any period before enactment of the Act or the eligibility of any Member to participate in the TSP. Allows Members to opt-in to retirement coverage within 90 days after enactment.
11/18/2011: Referred to House Administration
11/18/2011: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform