Today, the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution, H. Con. Res. 71, by a vote of 216 to 212. Unlike the initial House-passed version, the Senate-passed budget resolution does not contain instructions for the committee with jurisdiction over the federal workforce to cut federal employee retirement benefits. This means that the final FY18 Budget Resolution does not include the required $32 billion in cuts to federal employee retirement benefits that initially passed the House. Congressional leadership hopes to use this budget resolution as the legislative vehicle to shepherd tax reform in the coming weeks, as it would only require tax changes to be passed by a simple majority vote in the Senate (51) instead of with the typically-required higher threshold of 60 votes.
By working closely with members of Congress, NTEU was able to defeat efforts to target federal employee healthcare and retirement benefits in this year’s final budget resolution. However, this fight is not over. Congress is expected to consider a third disaster spending bill before the end of the year, with the Office of Management and Budget reportedly looking for Congress to provide cuts from unrelated federal programs to pay for this disaster relief. In addition, Congress must pass legislation to fund the federal government by December 8, when agency funding for FY 2018 currently ends, and it must also address mandatorily-required sequestration (so-called spending caps) for FY18, that could necessitate cuts to federal agencies and other programs. Further, there is already talk of spending cuts being included in the Administration’s FY19 proposed budget and in potential congressional budget resolutions in the new year. NTEU will now focus its efforts in the House and Senate to ensure that cuts to federal employee pay and benefits are not used to offset the cost of any spending deal between now and the end of the year.