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Legislative Updates

Senate FY2020 budget resolution passes committee

In an 11-9 party-line vote today, the Senate Budget Committee advanced a budget resolution (viewable here) for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2020. While not a full budget for FY2020, the resolution sets top-level spending guidelines for the upcoming fiscal year. Its committee passage follows the release of the White House budget request on March 11 and stands by the Administration’s desire for steep cuts in non-defense discretionary spending with a 9 percent reduction.

Non-defense spending would be capped at $542 billion, set under the Budget Control Act (Public Law 112-25), down from the current level of $597 billion. The resolution would also cap defense spending to $576 billion, down from the current level of $647 billion, but includes a measure that would allow defense spending to rise to $750 billion (the level requested by the White House) in FY2020 if lawmakers agree to raise the caps (a $34 billion, or 5 percent, increase from FY2019.)

Of note, the resolution instructs non-defense committees to cut $15 billion from the programs under their jurisdiction over the next five years, including the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC). Such instructions could see HSGAC make drastic changes to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), similar to those found in the White House budget, including increased employee contributions, elimination of cost of living adjustments, elimination of annuity supplements for those under 62, reducing the TSP’s G fund interest rate, and basing annuities on workers’ highest average yearly salary over five years (high-5) instead of over the highest three years (high-3), among others.

Additionally, the resolution would cut health care programs by $360 billion over the next five years, $77 billion from Medicare and $223 billion from Medicaid.

Beyond the specific language outlined in the resolution, it also includes a series of measures or what it calls “deficit-neutral reserve funds,” that serve as placeholders for real legislation at a future date. These measures call for legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare); to implement work requirements for health care programs such as Medicaid, which could potentially kick 1.7 million people off their coverage; and notably, legislation to “prevent a taxpayer bailout of pension plans.”

It is important to note that this budget resolution is merely a proposal and by Chairman Mike Enzi’s (R-WY) own admission, unlikely to become law as he noted in February that “to get anything done, it’ll be necessary” to increase both defense and non-defense discretionary spending levels.

As with the White House proposal however, this Republican Senate budget resolution provides a reference point for the priorities of lawmakers as we enter budget and appropriations season. As of press, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) has not released a budget resolution of his own.

NALC will continue to update letter carriers on the status the FY2020 budget and appropriations process.

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