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Analysis: Federal Budget Plans And The Government Workforce

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The U.S. House and Senate are hoping to vote on their respective budget proposals this week. Kellie Lunney, senior reporter at Government Executive, details how the two fiscal plans reveal the parties' disagreement over the role of government, as well as differing visions for the size of the federal workforce.

On what parts of Representative Paul Ryan's House Republican budget proposal would affect federal workers most: "Republican Paul Ryan's House proposal would affect federal workers the most. The proposal would increase the amount that federal employees contribution to their pensions, from anywere from 5 percent to 6 percent. Another provision would shrink the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition the next couple of years. Basically, that would mean that for every two or three federal workers that leave the government, they would only replace those positions with one hire."

On how the Ryan's budget compare with previous Republican budgets: "It's pretty similar as far as the increase in contributing to their pensions and shrinking the federal workforce through attrition. It does leave out a specific proposal to continue the freeze in pay for federal workers, which has been in the previous Republican budget proposals."

On why the budget proposal from Senate Democrats makes fewer references to federal employees: "Senate Democrats included language that signal they would like to protect federal pay and compensation, but they don't lay out any specific details the way the Republican proposals do, probably because there is pressure on the Democratic side to sort of layoff of targeting pay and benefits for federal workers"

On Virginia Senator Mark Warner's proposed amendment to streamline some government operations: "He proposed an amendment to the Senate plan that would allow the transfer of funds within the Office of Personnel Management, which is basically sort of the HR shop for the government to help reduce the backlog of federal retirement applications, which now stands at 41,000. It's been a long-standing problem that has delayed a lot of retirees' annuity checks, but OPM has made progress in the last last year expediting the claims in this would help them continue make more progress on that.

On how much attention federal workers should be to these proposals: "Well as blueprints, they don't carry the force of law, but they're important to pay attention to, because they lay out a vision for both parties and contain ideas that the parties are are looking to promote in some way. So they could find their way in others pieces of legislation down the pike, particularly in appropriations bills."

On the prognosis over the coming days for these plans: "The House expects to vote on the GOP plan today, and the Senate is looking to try to get their plan voted on by end of the week, but the Senate is still finishing up the continuing resolution, which would fund the government passed March 27. So they need to get that out of the way and they could wind up staying the weekend and perhaps into next week to finish to vote on the Senate budget proposal.

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