First, thank you for your hard work and willingness to share your stories with the FBIAA for the Voices from the Field report. We have made a visible impact on the budget debate including Voices from the Field being cited on the floor of Congress and in the media.
Second, Congress has reached a budget deal, which is awaiting a vote. If enacted, it would change the way sequestration works and avert a repeat of October's government shutdown. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the agreement as early as Thursday; the Senate is expected to act at some point before Christmas. Supporters of the agreement on Capitol Hill are optimistic about the chances for passage at this time.
Third, this is not over—appropriations measures must be enacted by January 15, 2014. This agreement is only the first step in the process. If enacted, this budget agreement would establish an overall "top-line” budget number that is higher than would have existed under sequestration for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Appropriators will now have more money to allocate to agencies such as the Bureau when they craft appropriations bills prior to the January 15th deadline—without the looming specter of another round of sequestration cuts (which would have taken more than $700 million from the Bureau). The FBIAA is hopeful that these changes will allow for the Bureau to be better funded and for furloughs to be avoided, and we will continue to strongly advocate for such funding during the appropriations process.
Fourth, the agreement includes increased pension contributions for employees hired after December 31, 2013, which FBIAA opposes. This is a compromise agreement. Part of the cost of the agreement is offset by legislative language that will increase FERS contributions from federal employees. Specifically, civilian federal employees with see their FERS contributions increase by 1.3%. However, this increase will only apply to employees hired after December 31, 2013 with less than five years of service, so current Agents will not be directly affected. In any case, the FBIAA is opposed to these increases, which are unfair and also not a tool that can be used to balance the budget. We have expressed our opposition to these increases to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
As we move forward, the FBIAA will be redoubling our efforts to persuade appropriators to fully fund the Bureau. We greatly appreciate the continued support of FBIAA members to help in these important efforts.