Senate OKs $2.2-Billion Spending Plan for Congress : Budget: It would close the Office of Technology Assessment and cut funds for General Accounting and Government Printing offices.

<i> From the Washington Post</i>

For the Republican-controlled Congress, budget-cutting has begun at home.

The Senate voted, 94 to 4, to give final legislative approval last week to a compromise $2.2-billion measure to fund Congress’ activities for the next year.

The spending bill gives Congress $200 million less than in the current fiscal year; eliminates the Office of Technology Assessment, the 23-year-old agency that advises Congress on scientific and technological issues, and cuts the budgets of the General Accounting Office and Government Printing Office.

In addition, lawmakers tentatively have agreed to give up a scheduled pay raise for the third year in a row.


The legislative branch spending bill usually is passed by Congress and signed into law by the President with little fanfare.

The legislative appropriation bill’s biggest savings come from eliminating the Office of Technology Assessment’s $21.9-million budget. The measure includes $3.6 million to pay for 60 days of severance pay for about 200 employees and to close down the agency’s offices.

Critics of the agency complained that its studies took too long to complete and were often delivered well after lawmakers needed the information.

One legislative agency getting a budget increase is the Congressional Budget Office. Lawmakers agreed to increase its budget by $1.1 million to analyze unfunded mandates to the states.

The spending bill would also cut $74.9 million from the General Accounting Office, the congressional auditing arm, and cut $7.9 million from the Government Printing Office and reduce the number of copies of the Congressional Record that are published each day for House members. The Senate rejected similar restrictions on its members.

In a further search for savings, a Senate committee ordered to find $9.8 billion in cuts decided to alter the federal pension program but would leave the employee health program untouched.


The plan approved by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee last week would:

* Reduce pension benefits for Congress’ members and staff. Starting Jan. 1, the retirement contributions and accrual rates for Congress would be revised to mirror the pensions provided white-collar federal workers.

* Increase federal employee retirement contributions. The payroll deduction for all civilian employees, including postal workers, would increase by 0.5% of pay.

* Increase federal agency contributions to the pension program. Except for the U.S. Postal Service, agencies would increase their contributions by 1.5% for employees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System. Agency contributions for workers covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System would not be increased.

* Continue paying cost-of-living adjustments to retirees in April rather than allowing the COLA payment to revert back to January in 1997. Continuing the delayed payment will help the government avoid borrowing money, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), said.

The measure will be packaged with other Senate bills designed to reconcile tax and spending policies with deficit-reduction goals. The House version probably will contain different provisions, requiring negotiations between the House and Senate in mid-October.