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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec. 17, 2012
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org What's Inside44 December 17, 2012 • Vol. 62, No. 23 Defense workforce cuts appear more likely Last month, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and six other Democratic lawmakers, including Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), co- sponsored an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. The Cardin amendment called for striking lan- guage in the bill that would produce cuts to the Defense Department civilian and contract workforce of at least 5 percent. But the amendment was voted down, and implementation of the 5 percent cuts will begin next year, barring what one union sees as "unlikely" action by the House or the White House to alter the bill. The American Federation of Government Employees, which repre- sents tens of thousands of employees at the Department of Defense, is girding for Round 2 in what so far has been a losing battle to stop the wide swath of indis- criminate job cuts at the sprawling agency. "We were surprised and disappointed that the Senate rejected the consensus of all stakeholders in this---federal employ- ees, the contractors, the White House and the DOD itself---to make reductions after thoughtful analysis, not arbitrary ones like those called for here," John Threlkeld, legislative representative for AFGE, told FEND. "We lost on the [Cardin] amendment vote---and so we've ended up with what is really just a smaller version of sequestra- tion," he continued. "To us, these cuts were really inexplicably agreed upon by the Senate Armed Services Committee." Threlkeld noted that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) originally offered a 15 percent cut proposal reduced in an apparent com- promise with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We understand that as part of a deal, Chairman Levin offered that 'we'll do a voice vote for cutting 5 percent for both civilians and contractors, in exchange for your withdrawing your call for a 15 percent cut to civilians only,'" Threlkeld explained, describing the legislative horse trade. Threlkeld noted that while a few Democrats endorsed the cut, still "the clear majority of Democrats in the Senate oppose McCain's arbitrary cuts to the civil- ian and contractor defense workforce." Cuts likely to stand "Chairman Levin lobbied his Democratic colleagues very hard, [and] he only got a few of them---and on the Armed Services Committee, only one--- but it was enough for the cuts to pass," Threlkeld told FEND. Chain reaction This time last year, most of us had probably never heard the term "sequestration'. A year ago, nobody was talking about the perils of going over a "fiscal cliff." What's a fiscal cliff? And where did it come from? If you live in the real world, north, south, east and west of the beltway (as most people do), you are prob- ably wondering what we (or 'they') in Washington are doing about it. Short answer: Not much. Think back to 2009---possibly the best year federal and postal workers and retirees ever had on Capitol Hill. A number of beneficial changes---some which had been pending or on hold for a decade---got through the House and Senate. It was as if the political/legisla- tive stars had aligned just long enough to get improvements in the retirement program, the Thrift Savings Plan and other benefits into law. Then a year later, a pro-fed president proposed a two-year pay freeze which Congress happily approved. The president also appointed a INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Court clarifies 'mixed' case rules 4 • In Brief 4 • Legal Matters 6 • Informed Investor 8 • Federal Benefits Q&A 9 continued on page 3 This is the 50th and final issue of FeND for 2012. The next issue of FeND will be Jan. 14, 2013.
Dec. 10, 2012
Jan. 14, 2013