Washington, D.C.—In the ongoing battle to reduce substantially the amount taxpayers have to pay in salary reimbursements for government contractors, the head of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) today called on the Senate to approve an amendment that would rein in exorbitant payments for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Guard contractors.
In a letter to senators, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley expressed strong support for an amendment to immigration reform legislation, introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), that would cap the salary reimbursement at $230,700. That is the current salary of the U.S. vice president.
“The Manchin amendment would begin to address the problem of excessive contractor salaries by capping salary reimbursements from taxpayers for contractors performing border security-related functions,” President Kelley wrote. “While we would prefer the cap be applied to all contractor employees government-wide, NTEU believes capping contractor salaries at (DHS) and the National Guard is a good first step.”
The present reimbursement cap for the top five contract employees is $763,000, but is slated under current law to rise to more than $950,000 in coming weeks.
“We urge support for the Manchin amendment that would begin to address the problem of excessive taxpayer reimbursements for contractor salaries and provide much-needed savings for the federal government,” the NTEU leader added.
Just yesterday, a proposed amendment to defense legislation designed to accomplish a similar goal in the House was turned aside when the House Rules Committee refused to rule it in order. That prompted a response from the amendment’s author, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.)
“I remain disappointed that this amendment has yet again been blocked by the majority party, particularly when the overarching legislation explicitly addresses contractor compensation,” Tonko said. “When taxpayer-funded federal contractors take home up to four times the amount our military leadership earns, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.”
Until there is real reform, “the American taxpayer will continue to foot this exorbitant bill,” he said, pledging to continue his efforts to lower the reimbursement cap. Along with President Kelley, Rep. Tonko has been among the leaders in fighting the rapid growth of the taxpayers’ obligations regarding salary reimbursements to private sector contractors.
When the next reimbursement amount—which by law is tied to the pay of chief executive officers and other senior leaders in private companies—is announced by the Office of Management and Budget, the percentage growth since the law’s inception in 1995 will have reached some 300 percent.
As the largest independent federal union, NTEU represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.