Collins Calls on Senate Conferees to Reject Cuts in Federal Benefits

WASHINGTON – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, today urged Senate conferees to reject provisions in the House budget resolution that would cut benefits to current and retired federal workers.

“In these difficult times, during which we continually ask more of our public servants, we must find ways to reward – not punish — them,” Collins said in her letter to Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-OK) and the committee’s ranking member Kent Conrad (D-ND).

Although the Senate’s 2004 budget resolution leaves federal health and retirement benefits intact, the House resolution calls for a reduction of $1.1 billion in 2004 and $40 billion over the next 10 years. The funding cuts would affect the nation’s 2.6 million civil service and postal workers, 13,400 of which live in the State of Maine, and 2.4 million federal retirees, 24,395 of which are Mainers. If the House provision prevails, it would likely require either a reduction in benefits or an increase in employees’ share of the cost.

“Congress should not require cuts in federal employee health or retirement programs or impose what would amount to new taxes on federal employees in order to pay for new government spending,” Collins said Thursday. “I share the commitment to deficit reduction, but it should not be done on the backs of federal employees.”