President Signs Legislation Increasing Federal Spending Levels

Congress has passed legislation to increase sequester spending levels for both domestic and defense spending for Fiscal Years (FY) 2016 and 2017.  The measure also raises the debt ceiling until March 2017, which prevents a default on November 3rd.  The House passed the budget deal by a vote of 266-167, and about 3:00am on October 30, 2015, the Senate cleared the measure 64-35. 

Under the bill, signed into law by President Obama on November 2, 2015, domestic and defense spending caps are each increased by $25 billion for FY 2016 and $15 billion each for FY 2017.  Separate FY 2016 spending legislation that allocates funds to individual federal agencies must be crafted and enacted using these new overall funding levels in order to avoid a government shutdown, due to a lapse in appropriations, when current funding runs out on December 11, 2015.

This legislation also addresses Medicare Part B premiums for 2016 for retirees who receive no or very low Social Security benefits, and therefore do not have Part B premiums directly deducted from a Social Security check.  These retirees, who represent approximately 30% of the program, were facing a dramatic increase in monthly premiums—from $104.90 to $159.30.  Under the deal, these Medicare beneficiaries will instead see monthly Part B premiums rise to $123.70.  Seniors who do have their Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks will continue to pay $104.90 per month, and retirees with Modified Adjusted Gross Incomes of over $85,000 for single filers and $170,000 for married filing jointly will continue to be subjected to higher monthly Part B premiums.  

NTEU is  pleased that this budget package did not rely on cuts to federal pay or federal employee benefit programs offset for increased spending levels for FY 2016 and 2017.  And, further that it provides some relief in the cost of Part B premiums for CSRS retirees with no Social Security, and other federal retirees who for a variety of reasons do not pay their Medicare premiums from a Social Security payment.  NTEU will remain focused on ensuring that our members’ agencies receive adequate funding allocations for FY 2016 under the new spending levels, and that Congress passes legislation to do so before the December 11th deadline to prevent a government shutdown that would unfairly penalize the federal workforce.  NTEU will keep you posted.  

Diane Lynne
President, NTEU Chapter 280
202 566 2786