House Republican Study Committee Releases Budget Proposal for FY 2024
SUMMARY: The House Republican Study Committee released its budget proposal for FY 2024 calling once again for cuts to IRS funding and employee pay and benefits while restoring the anti-union executive orders of the prior administration.
Last week, the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), the conservative caucus of House Republicans which provides policy proposals for its members, released its budget proposal for FY 2024. As in previous years, the RSC budget calls for cuts to employee pay and benefits and to make it easier to fire federal workers while undermining their collective bargaining rights. It also supports eliminating the CFPB and cutting IRS funding.
Specifically, the House RSC FY 2024 budget proposal once again cites a 2017 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that concluded federal workers receive on average 17% more in total compensation when benefits are included than their counterparts in the private sector. As a result, they recommend proposals to limit pay increases and bonuses and reform the federal pay scale to “stop overpaying less qualified employees.” NTEU strenuously objects to the RSC proposals to cut pay and the CBO finding that federal employees are paid more than their private sector counterparts. The CBO is not the expert on comparing federal pay and benefits with the private sector—the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the expert and it shows that the federal government is falling behind the private sector, which the Federal Salary Council found to be by 24%.
The RSC’s proposed budget also proposes several draconian changes to federal retirement benefits, similar to those proposed by the last administration. Their plan would eliminate the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) for new hires, change the current FERS high-3 year average calculation to a high-5 year average, reduce or eliminate cost-of-living adjustments for FERS and Civil Service Retirement System annuitants, eliminate the FERS Special Retirement Supplemental, and change the interest rate on the Thrift Savings Plan G fund. Besides those changes, the proposed budget would make longtime federal employees pay more for their benefits by expanding the increased retirement contributions for new hires that were instituted in 2013 to all employees. These changes would force federal workers to pay more for less while simultaneously eliminating the promise of a secure retirement.
When it comes to healthcare, the RSC’s budget would “transition” the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) to a premium support system. This means that the
government would now only provide a standardized contribution — like a stipend — for the
Falsely claiming that it is virtually impossible to fire federal employees, the RSC budget proposal notes its support for several proposals including the MERIT Act, introduced by Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) last year which would shorten the timeframe for removing federal employees, extend the probationary period to two years, and prohibit the use of the negotiated grievance process for adverse actions. The proposal also recommends prohibiting federal employees from using paid time off for exercising union duties and prohibiting the federal government from collecting union dues. The RSC Budget also supports the Union Accountability Act, introduced by RSC Chairman Kevin Hern (R-OK) last year, which would rescind President Biden’s 2021 executive order overturning the three 2018 anti-union executive orders from the last administration as well as the 2020 executive order creating Schedule F, thereby reinstating those orders.
Although House Republicans have already voted to rescind the historic investments made to the IRS last year in the Inflation Reduction Act, the RSC FY 2024 budget proposal renews the call for rescinding all unobligated funding provided to the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act and echoes erroneous claims that the IRS plans to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to spy on low- and middle-income Americans. Additionally, the proposal calls for reducing discretionary funding for IRS enforcement to “help protect Americans from intrusive audits and to stop politically driven harassment.” The proposal also notes support for Representative Byron Donald’s (R-FL) Repeal CFPB Act, which would eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Although many of these proposals are not new for the House Republican Study Committee, their collection and publication once again underscores the real and reoccurring threat to agencies and employees’ pay, benefits, rights, and protections. Given the fact that the House is now working on appropriations bills for FY 2024, it is possible that several of these provisions may be proposed or included in the House bills. NTEU will keep you posted on any developments.
Anthony M. Reardon