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Coble seeks to reform congressional pensions again

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Washington, Jun 13, 2013 | Ed McDonald (202-225-3065) | comments

(Washington, DC)----In what has become a biennial exercise, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) announced today that he has introduced new legislation again to reform the congressional pension program.  Congressman Coble, who has refused to participate in the congressional pension program, said his bill would change how quickly future members of Congress become vested.

          Coble says his bill would require new members to serve for at least 12 years before they become vested in the congressional pension program.  Under current law, members become eligible to receive lifetime pension benefits after only five years of service.  It also makes conforming changes to ensure that members cannot receive other pension benefits until they have served 12 years.

        “Reforming congressional pensions is long overdue,” Rep. Coble said.  “From the feedback that I have received over the years, this program is unpopular with many taxpayers.   When I first ran for this office in 1984, I told citizens of the Sixth District that, if elected, I would not participate in the congressional pension program and would work to reform the system.” 

        Congressman Coble said his bill would amend title 5, United States Code, to provide that members must complete 12 years of creditable service in order to be vested in an annuity under the Federal Employee Retirement System.  It is the equivalent of two terms in the Senate or six terms in the House or any combination of the two.  It is also important to note that the bill would have no impact on other federal employees. To avoid any constitutional questions, the law would not take effect until the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015.

        Rep. Coble has been a longtime critic of legislative pensions.  In addition to refusing the federal pension, he did not participate in the state system for the four terms he served in the North Carolina House of Representatives. 

       “Over the years, I have tried unsuccessfully to change the congressional pension program.  I have introduced bills to abolish the system or to make it equal to the pension that all federal employees receive.  All of these past efforts died quickly and quietly.  So, for the 113th Congress, I am resurrecting an approach I first tried in the 112th Congress.  That effort did produce a House hearing following a nationally-televised report on the pension system.

       “My bill would lengthen the time of service required before a member would be eligible for participation in the pension program.  With all levels of the federal government being sequestered with budget cuts, I think this common-sense reform to a lavish pension system is the least we can do for the American taxpayers.”  

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