Government affairs

Legislative Updates

FY2018 budget update

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass a nearly $790 billion “minibus” appropriations package to fund the military, energy programs and water projects, U.S. Capitol operations, veterans’ benefits and initial construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall in a 235-192, mostly party-line vote.

Congressional Republicans signaled early on in the FY2018 budget process that they would approach it non-traditionally (click here to see how the process usually works), opting at first to roll all appropriations into a single bill, known as an “omnibus.” This is done to avoid debate and scrutiny over each individual bill, to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, and to pass with only a simple majority.

House Republicans settled on the “minibus,” a four-bill, security-related appropriations package following disagreements on how to proceed with an omnibus plan. Now that it has passed, their hope is that when the House returns to Washington, DC, in September following its August recess, they can hammer out the remaining disagreements and push through the rest of the omnibus before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Just over a week ago, the House Budget Committee released and advanced its FY2018 budget resolution, a non-binding policy statement intended to provide a budget blueprint for House lawmakers as they tackle the remaining independent spending measures through the appropriations process.

Of note, the resolution suggests raising federal employees’ pension contributions and eliminating the so-called “Social Security supplement” that covers the gap for workers who retire under FERS before they qualify for Social Security benefits at age 62. In addition, the resolution encourages Congress to embrace certain provisions from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a presidential commission created in 2010 by President Obama, which also include reducing CSRS and FERS pension benefits for new retirees by basing annuities on employees’ highest average pay over five years (high-5) instead of over three years (high-3); deferring cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees in the current system until age 62, and in place of annual increases, provide a one-time catch-up adjustment; and increasing the ratio of employer/employee contributions to federal employee pension plans.

The committee also recommended placing the Postal Service back on budget. The reality is that placing the Postal Service back on budget would require the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to introduce legislation that would need to be passed on the House floor. That occurrence would be highly unlikely and such legislation does not currently exist.

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