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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 01/18/2011

Two GOP freshmen to handle federal worker issues

By Ed O'Keefe


Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.) will lead the House subcommittee on the federal workforce and U.S. Postal Service. (AP)

House Republicans are tapping two freshmen to lead congressional oversight of the federal workforce and U.S. Postal Service.

Eye Opener

Reps. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) will serve as chairman and vice chairman of the panel's subcommittee on the federal workforce, U.S. Postal Service and labor policy, according to aides for committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

A formal announcement will be made later Tuesday. The decision places two of Capitol Hill's freshest faces at the center of the debate on legislation to cut the pay and benefits for at least some of the nation's 2.2 million federal employees and to overhaul the beleaguered Postal Service.

Ross, 51, succeeds former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) as representative of Florida's 12th Congressional district, which includes parts of Osceola and Polk counties. Ross served in the Florida state legislature before coming to Washington and once worked as a lawyer for Disney World.

Amash, 30, is the youngest member of the GOP's freshman class and represents Michigan's 3rd Congressional district, succeeding former Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.). The district includes Grand Rapids and Forest Hills. Amash served just two years in the Michigan House before winning his congressional seat, and is credited for being among the first politicians to post detailed explanations of his votes on Facebook.

In a statement, Issa called Ross "a thoughtful and courageous leader" and said Amash's embrace of social media "will prove instrumental in advancing an agenda that aims to meet the American people's expectation of a government that is efficient, transparent and accountable."

Neither Ross nor Amash were available for comment late Monday.

In its first few weeks, the full oversight committee is expected to hold hearings on corruption in Afghanistan; the release of classified diplomatic cables by Wikileaks; the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's failure to identify the origins of the meltdown.

But Issa expects Ross and Amash to work on building "a 21st century federal workforce that no longer grows itself at the expense of private sector job creation, and gets more done with less." Preventing "a fiscal meltdown" at the U.S. Postal Service is also "one of the central priorities" of the new Congress, Issa said in his statement.

The future of federal pay and benefits could be especially contentious. President Obama last year ordered a two-year pay freeze for all federal employees, but the bipartisan deficit commission and several Republican lawmakers want to use a three-year pay freeze, furloughs and attrition to cut the government's payroll by billions of dollars in the next decade.

Though the Postal Service is seeking serious structural reforms, it is still unclear how far Congress is willing to go to revamp it. USPS lost $8.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September and postal executives are seeking passage of legislation that would allow them to set delivery routes, close post offices and adjust prices without congressional approval -- a potentially tricky vote for lawmakers who would face criticism for approving the closure of neighborhood post offices.

Other proposals call for using billions of dollars in over-payments by the Postal Service to the Civil Service Retirement System to prefund future retiree health benefits, a $5.4 billion annual charge it is required to pay by law. The Postal Service's $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury expires this year, meaning it will almost certainly run out of money by the end of the year.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with a community service project at a D.C. school. Dick Cheney considering a heart transplant. Former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver hospitalized in suburban Maryland.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Military extends health care coverage for adult children: The military's health care program is taking advantage of a fiscal 2011 Defense Authorization Act provision allowing it to extend coverage for adult children.

FCC:
Comcast-NBC merger approval expected Tuesday: The commission is expected to vote Tuesday to approve the deal, putting an end to a more than year-long review.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
Interim payments rise for nearly one-third of recent retirees: About 36,000 recent retirees are now receiving interim annuities -- which are sometimes as low as half of what they are owed -- for months while OPM tries to calculate the correct amount.

NASA:
NASA safety hurt by policy disputes: U.S. astronaut safety is threatened by continuing disputes over the agency's direction, according to a high-level federal oversight group.

NLRB:
Labor board warns on secret ballots: The board says four states can't override federal law that gives workers the option of the so-called card-check method of organizing.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
White House eases travel to Cuba: It would allow religious groups to travel to the country and increase journalistic activities on the island.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT:
U.S. debt tops $14 trillion: That means Congress soon will have to lift the legal debt ceiling to give the almost maxed-out government an even higher credit limit.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 18, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener, Oversight, Postal Service  
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Next: Freshman Rep. Gowdy to chair D.C., Census, oversight panel

Comments

Customer Service and security always drops and overall cost for the government always goes up when certain functions are privatized in the U.S. due to already lax regulation and hiring practices. Repubs are always focused on lowering the quality standards for employees, public and private, in the name of profits. There needs to be more moderates.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | January 18, 2011 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Customer Service and security always drops and overall cost for the government always goes up when certain functions are privatized in the U.S. due to already lax regulation and hiring practices. Repubs are always focused on lowering the quality standards for employees, public and private, in the name of profits. There needs to be more moderates.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | January 18, 2011 6:05 AM | Report abuse

I have nothing but contempt for these clowns.

Posted by: Nymous | January 18, 2011 6:13 AM | Report abuse

The Cato Institute and American Enterprise Institute have found their newest dweebs.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | January 18, 2011 7:14 AM | Report abuse

My agency tried "doing more with less" several years ago, and managers are still banging their heads against the wall trying to enact this Neanderthal philosophy. If you have less resources, you must expect less accomplishment. Period.

Posted by: TheRockMan2 | January 18, 2011 7:15 AM | Report abuse

I have not problem with doing my part, if it means freezing my pay for two or three years to help the economy. However I do feel that Congress should be doing the same. Why does the working class people always have to be the first to make the changes and then sometimes the rest will follow and other times we are the only one to do so. I have worked for almost 30 years for the Government, and it is a tiring situation when you keep asking us to work more for less. Either you want to freeze our pay, or put us on furloughs. What has Congress or the House done lately for our goverment which pays their overrated salaries. You notice they get their raise before they freeze our. If the Government would start with cutting the programs of the people who are not willing to work for a living, we may make more progress.

Posted by: arettagreer | January 18, 2011 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I have not problem with doing my part, if it means freezing my pay for two or three years to help the economy. However I do feel that Congress should be doing the same. Why does the working class people always have to be the first to make the changes and then sometimes the rest will follow and other times we are the only one to do so. I have worked for almost 30 years for the Government, and it is a tiring situation when you keep asking us to work more for less. Either you want to freeze our pay, or put us on furloughs. What has Congress or the House done lately for our goverment which pays their overrated salaries. You notice they get their raise before they freeze our. If the Government would start with cutting the programs of the people who are not willing to work for a living, we may make more progress.

Posted by: arettagreer | January 18, 2011 7:44 AM | Report abuse

They'll do whatever they can by any means to advance the interests of multinational corporations with no loyalty to America. Workers — just suck it up.

Posted by: bdunn1 | January 18, 2011 7:46 AM | Report abuse

This will be a good place to start by decertifying the unions of any government agency. With pay demands, benefits and worik rules, unions no longer serve workers or the citizens of this country. Unions today serve only the so called leaders of the unions and their goal is to make certain their future of building wealth and power is assured.

Decertiy Unioins is a good start!

Posted by: dutchmills | January 18, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

If these guys want to trash the federal workforce, they gotta do it soon, before they find out that the feds are the ones who get things done that the elected people want done. A conundrum that even Reagan figured out.

Posted by: kamdog | January 18, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

At one time, the "golden handcuffs" of the CSRS kept people working for the government through pay freezes,calls to cut the workforce, reduce benefits. But under FERS and the move to cut the few benefits left to public service employees, I suspect the younger people will leave federal service in droves. Federal service used to be honorable -- now it's treated as something shameful.

Posted by: Babecat | January 18, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

The new Republithug mantra to all Feds who dare to question their wisdom;

"You are all condemed men, We keep you alive to serve this ship, row well and live"

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 18, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

The new Republithug mantra to all Feds who dare to question their wisdom;

"You are all condemed men, We keep you alive to serve this ship, row well and live"

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 18, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans are giving two newbies control over some of the most sensitive areas of the federal service face with the public, the USPS and the employees of the government who meet with the public and who do our work. And these two can hardly find their way to the men's room. Mrs. Gump was right, Stupid is as Stupid does.

These guys understand nothing of the workings of government or the problems facing it. Yet, they are in charge of the Post Office and all federal workers. It is just one more illustration of how out of touch Republicans are with the people and how egocentric they are.

Posted by: ronjeske | January 18, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

If you desire to attract the best and brightest to work in the public sector then more should be done to forgive student loans for a certain number of years of service as well as making the work of public service more attractive, not less. It is not the government employees who are the problem. Many of them have given a life as public servants when they could obviously make more in the private sector. Do not make government employee the whipping boy/girl. We did not create the ongoing crisis that we now confront.

Posted by: lindampeterson | January 18, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

If you desire to attract the best and brightest to work in the public sector then more should be done to forgive student loans for a certain number of years of service as well as making the work of public service more attractive, not less. It is not the government employees who are the problem. Many of them have given a life as public servants when they could obviously make more in the private sector. Do not make government employee the whipping boy/girl. We did not create the ongoing crisis that we now confront.

Posted by: lindampeterson | January 18, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

There is no better job than a government job.I know what all you government people will disagree, but I know a lot of people that would love to have a government job.You all has it made and you know it With you all it takes 5 to 6 employees to do 1 man job The way you all work is 1 works 5 lay around or right sleep I'm sorry but thats the way it is and you know it .

Posted by: rph1045 | January 18, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Issa says he wants a federal workforce that is:
"efficient, transparent and accountable." The Republicans never have understood is what the vast majority of the American people want is a federal workforce that is
"EFFECTIVE". Alienating federal employees to gain a few billion over 10 years is not going to do anything to make life better for the citizens. Further his comment about competing with the private sector suggests that what he really wants to do is make federal employment the last choice among employers. That is not in the best interest of the American people. We went through this during the Reagan years and hollowed out the government. An act that dramatically reduced effectiveness. Now if Sarah Palin gets elected and brings back Devine as OPM Director we will have gone full circle.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | January 18, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone caught on yet? Congress writes their own salaries, medical for life, great retirement...just another way to deflect from real issues...jobs, housing, real changes in health care...

Note: Federal Work Force-W.V.T-We Vote Too!

Posted by: lynnc412 | January 18, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

USPS lost $8.5 billion and will run out of money by year end BUT gave their employees an 8% pay raise, HOW is that being fiscally responsible when the Federal work force is already being criticized (which it shouldn't be)? The rest of the Federal workers don't get a raise at all, ok, but why allow some and not others?

Posted by: travis5344 | January 18, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

USPS lost $8.5 billion and will run out of money by year end BUT gave their employees an 8% pay raise
-----------------------

Actually the raise was 1.3%, and was part of an agreement from 2006.

Posted by: jjj141 | January 18, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

A novel solution to our expansive federal workforce: Remove the many mid-level managers who are unqualified and untrained to competently perform the duties they are tasked with, primarily because they obtained their status through nepotism, cronyism, or other forms of partiality, and replace them with well-educated, enthusiastic young professionals who value a status reward based on merit much more than modest raises. If innovation is a path towards a more efficient Government, The Old Guard of the federal workforce has nothing to offer, and should be purged. There are too many who are primarily motivated to do as little as possible so as not to be noticed by administrators burnt out on a lack of meaningful results.

Posted by: smart-aleck | January 18, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

If you offer "janitor's pay," you will get janitors. I absorbed a 25% pay loss by going to work for the federal government, and my pay has just been frozen. Now they want to cut it? I WILL go outside the gov't, and then they'll have to hire me as a consultant at a much higher cost, because janitors can't do my job. How is that going to save tax money?

Posted by: CalypsoSummer | January 18, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Representatives Ross and Amash combined represent 10,355 current federal, non-postal empoyees. That is .00489% of the total federal workforce. Want to get something done, select members that represent the fewest number of employees. Question is - was it planned or just pure coincidence? Somehow I don't believe in coincidence. Watch out!

Posted by: homeowner1 | January 18, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

If you offer "janitor's pay," you will get janitors. I absorbed a 25% pay loss by going to work for the federal government, and my pay has just been frozen. Now they want to cut it? I WILL go outside the gov't, and then they'll have to hire me as a consultant at a much higher cost, because janitors can't do my job. How is that going to save tax money?

Posted by: CalypsoSummer | January 18, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

CalypsoSummer, go for it. Get a real job, if you can.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 18, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

getjiggly1: Why is working for a private company that only exists to make owners rich "a real job," while working for the American taxpayer to provide meaningful and needed services is not? Get a grip on reality: the federal workforce is more highly educated than the private workforce, and deserves to be compensated accordingly. When the Republicans shut down the government during the Clinton Administration, the public became quite aware in a short period of time that services it wanted and needed were not going to be available. Stop the mindless Fed-bashing. Government employees are not the problem.

Posted by: ecraloon | January 18, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps my Fed employer would also like to have my left breast (???).

Posted by: MilEd | January 18, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps my Fed employer would also like to take away my left breast (???).

Posted by: MilEd | January 18, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I would like for the Congress Freshmen to investigate why so many employees at the Social Security Administration are related (brother, cousins, husbands, wives)and how, over the years, it has made that Agency dysfunctional. A furlough in that Agency means entire families clans are furloughed. Some of the more experienced congressional leaders have not done a better job. Why not give the Freshmen a chance?!!

Posted by: Arquilla1 | January 18, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Bashing the Federal Workforce (which the Republicans always do) is simply a red herring designed to look good to the public and to detract from substantive issues that should be addressed. The Federal Workforce in no way contributed to the mess that the country is in today. I am a retiree and a veteran with 32 years of service and I can honestly say that most Federal employees give a day's work for a day's pay and, in many instances, give more than a day's work. As far as outsourcing more to the private sector, this is a waste of money since the Federal workforce is more efficient than comparable work in the private sector. The comments from rph1045 are certainly the result of not truly understanding the valuable work that Federal employees do.

Posted by: mikelee3d | January 18, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dutchmills
"This will be a good place to start by decertifying the unions of any government agency. With pay demands, benefits and worik rules, unions no longer serve workers or the citizens of this country. Unions today serve only the so called leaders of the unions and their goal is to make certain their future of building wealth and power is assured.

Decertiy Unioins is a good start!"

Congratulations! You've hit on the key to solving the Federal debt. Never mind that very few Federal employees can bargain for wages and/or benefits.


Posted by: jeadpt | January 18, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

H.R. Bill 270 is a cheap shot. We Feds recently learned that our 2011 income with be thousands of dollars less than planned because of no COLA----for two years! A two-week furlough is now proposed on top of that! That would mean about $6,000 less a year of TAKE HOME pay for my family to pay a mortgage, buy groceries etc. All money is spent. How is this good for the economy???? Do you really think this will PROPEL US INTO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY? It will be of no consequence. We didn't creat this mess, and our numbers can't fix it. For those several, Non-Feds who protest too much about what you lack first-hand of the Federal workforce......Would YOU like to have at least $ 6K LESS TAKE HOME PAY THIS YEAR? This is a burden. I didn't ask Congress to pass a bill around Y2K when all my private sector pals where hitting it big. I was happy for them, and wondered if I should go private sector. I didn't. The Fed workforce is an anchor of stability, and if you dislodge it there will in fact be reprecussions. I don't know, maybe your IRS tax refund will be late. Do you care about that? The Fed is not profit driven. Appropriations address National priorities. Non-Feds, your bottom line should not affect Fed take home pay. Leave well enough alone already.

Posted by: mcilaura | January 18, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

You get what you pay for. Do you want someone making $10 an hour handling your SS number, or delivering your credit-card statement?

Posted by: TeflonPalin | January 18, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

The assignment of these 2 freshmen Repr's to committees overseeing federal employment and labor and the postal service is an insult to every federal employee and postal worker. It's disgusting, and fed workers better keep a hand on their wallets. Much more knowledgable and informed Repr's were passed over.

Posted by: treeplanter | January 18, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: smart-aleck
A novel solution to our expansive federal workforce: Remove the many mid-level managers who are unqualified and untrained to competently perform the duties they are tasked with, primarily because they obtained their status through nepotism, cronyism, or other forms of partiality, and replace them with well-educated, enthusiastic young professionals who value a status reward based on merit much more than modest raises. If innovation is a path towards a more efficient Government, The Old Guard of the federal workforce has nothing to offer, and should be purged. There are too many who are primarily motivated to do as little as possible so as not to be noticed by administrators burnt out on a lack of meaningful results."

And you know this as a fact, how Smart Ellic? Who do you propose will decide who is performing and who is not and stays? Your statement and theory are null and unjustified. If you care about the debt and the budget, hit the unneeded weapons programs and the many billions in pork projects.

Posted by: darbyohara | January 19, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

2 weeks = $6K? Meaning an annual salary of $150+K? Hard to argue we're not overpaying. Don't mind seeing Freshman Reps assigned, since they don't have years of being beholden to all the special interests involved.

Posted by: DUC_Vader | January 19, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

travis5354
What 8% raise did USPS employees get this year? We are working w/o a contact now. There has been no cola for 2 years. Any thing I recd was bargained for on last contract. Got about .65 per hour this year. And I am a highly skilled technician working on mail sorters that have replaced over 58000 jobs in past year. The so called losses you cite are from legislation pre funding retirees health plan, of which no other agency in Fed must do. take that away and USPS actually makes a profit.
And wasn't that a letter carrier the other day that saved someone in a burning building?
You Dumas(sic)
There are problems at PO but make sure you know what you are talking about before you flap your jaws

Posted by: jgr1954 | January 19, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Nope. Your numbers are off DVC_Vader.

The 6K loss I wrote of would be the H.R. 270 proposed loss of a paycheck, coupled with the no-COLA, and it would most certainly NOT be based on a $150K+ salary. You'd need to cut that by a third. BTW, I was offered $30K more in private sector three years ago, to do the same type job I'm doing now for Uncle Sam.

Posted by: mcilaura | January 19, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Nope. Your numbers are off DVC_Vader.

The 6K loss I wrote of would be the H.R. 270 proposed loss of a paycheck, coupled with the no-COLA, and it would most certainly NOT be based on a $150K+ salary. You'd need to cut that by a third. BTW, I was offered $30K more in private sector three years ago, to do the same type job I'm doing now for Uncle Sam.

Posted by: mcilaura | January 19, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

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