Washington, D.C.—The leader of the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees today called on House members to reject a proposed continuing resolution which would have a devastating impact on the ability of federal agencies to perform their missions.
In a letter to House members, President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said H.R. 933 would freeze funding for most agencies at roughly their fiscal 2012 levels and allow sequestration cuts to erode those funding levels even further. In addition, it would trigger furloughs that would cut federal employees’ paychecks by as much as 20 percent.
“Many of these agencies, including those represented by NTEU, have faced funding reductions over the last few years that have seriously hampered their ability to accomplish their missions,” Kelley wrote, highlighting the situations at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At the IRS, she told House members, insufficient resources have undermined its effort to provide taxpayers with the assistance they need to meet their tax obligations. Meanwhile, at CBP, lack of sufficient funding has “adversely impacted” its ability to ensure security at the nation’s ports of entry; while at the FDA, inadequate resources jeopardize this key agency’s work in protecting the nation’s food supply and ensuring that drugs, vaccines and medical devices are safe and effective.
“The additional 5 to 9 percent reduction to agencies’ budgets mandated by sequestration and included in H.R. 933,” she wrote, “will only further impede the federal government’s ability to continue providing the critical services the American people rely on.”
At the same time, she noted NTEU’s strong opposition to the provision in the legislation that would “unfairly extend the current pay freeze for federal employees for the remainder of 2013.” President Kelley emphasized that federal workers already have contributed $103 billion toward deficit reduction through the 27-month pay freeze and increased pension contributions.
Noting that they are middle class citizens who are subject to the same economic challenges as other Americans, the NTEU leader said “depriving them of a minimal one-half percent pay increase would only serve to worsen their economic situation and harm federal agencies’ ability to attract and retain the talent necessary for the workforce of the future.”
She added: “NTEU believes the insufficient funding levels provided in H.R. 933, coupled with the drastic across-the-board sequestration reductions, will have a devastating impact on the ability of federal agencies to meet their missions, and we strongly urge you to oppose this bill and act to avoid a government shutdown by providing agencies with adequate funding.”
The current continuing resolution funding government expires on March 27.
As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.