Congressional Budget Agreement Does Not Include Social Security Fix
December 20, 2022: Christmas did not come early for public retirees. Late last night, Mass Retirees and TRTA officials received word from Congressional leaders that they were not able to achieve a bipartisan deal to reform the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The $1.7 trillion federal omnibus bill will move forward without tackling WEP or GPO.
Spearheaded by House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal and ranking Member Kevin Brady, negotiators could not reach an agreement on how to pay for the reform proposal. As we have explained in the past, Social Security is funded through the federal payroll or FICA tax. Any increase in Social Security benefits would need to be funded through this same method.
“We are extremely disappointed that Congress could not find a way to get a deal done. Retirees will once again come away empty-handed, which is a real shame,” commented Association President Frank Valeri, who is himself subjected to the WEP. “After concluding that there is not a viable path to pass full repeal of WEP and the Government Pension Offset laws, we shifted our attention in 2015 to passing a compromise that would have the votes to make it through the House and the Senate. We remained confident and reliant on these two leaders to bend on their ideological beliefs and cut a deal, but it didn’t happen and these issues will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future.
“However, the truth is that our members and this Association have done everything within our power to help get a deal done and a bill passed in 2022. We have left absolutely nothing on the field. The only regret is that Congress did not see fit to do their part.”
Beyond the difficulty of agreeing on a payment method, negotiations were complicated further by the aggressive all-or-nothing stance taken by those advocating for full repeal of both WEP and GPO. HR82, the full repeal legislation filed in the House, achieved 306 cosponsors – a strong super majority that nearly forced a House vote this fall. The Senate companion bill gained just 42 cosponsors in the US Senate (a minimum of 60 are required to pass a bill related to Social Security). These efforts and resulting outcome mirror those taken by Mass Retirees and other organizations in the late 90s and early 2000s, when super majorities of cosponsors were achieved, but legislation did not pass.
“We now have 2 million retirees across the country harmed by the WEP, who have been let down by Congress once again. Whether advocating for full repeal or a WEP compromise, retirees put a lot of work into gaining support for action in this Congress. They have every reason to be angry and extremely disappointed by the outcome,” said Mass Retirees CEO Shawn Duhamel. “The inability of Congress to address and resolve problems like the WEP and GPO are part of the reason why people have lost faith in the federal government.
“At the same time, the way this Congressional session ended is a clear indication that we need a new approach to solving these problems. I also hope that this outcome serves as a wake-up call to those taking an all-or-nothing position. Over the past 25 years, there have been several sessions where full repeal bills held a super majority of support in the House. Cosponsors do not always translate into actual votes. Full repeal is highly unlikely to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. Those seeking all or nothing will continue to end up with nothing, resulting in everyone losing out.”
Mass Retirees will have more to say on the outcome, as well as an outlook for 2023 early in the New Year.