Colorado Rep. floats bill cutting congressional benefits

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is taking that whole “we need to tighten our belts” thing seriously. He will introduce a bill this fall to end the “defined benefit” portion of the congressional retirement plan, National Journal reports.

Members of Congress who have served five years or longer currently receive annual benefits equal to 1.7 percent of their salary until they’ve served 20 years. After that, they get another 1 percent for every additional year. They also contribute 1.3 percent of their salaries to a pension plan and receive Social Security benefits.

The new legislation would allow lawmakers to keep their already-accrued benefits, and they can still contribute to Social Security and retirement savings plans.

“These are extremely difficult economic times, and Congress needs to set an example and lead the way for the country,” Rep. Coffman said. “I think this is a good start.”

Others have tried in recent months to reform congressional pensions. Rep. Scott Rigell, Virginia Republican, sponsored legislation that would prohibit members from receiving matching contributions to their retirement savings accounts. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced a bill requiring members to wait until they reach Social Security retirement age to access benefits. And Rep. Howard Coble, Republican from North Carolins, sponsored a bill requiring new members to serve 12 years before becoming eligible for a congressional pension.

Members of Congress become eligible for retirement benefits at an earlier age and with fewer years on the job than most other employees of the federal government, but they do pay a higher percentage of their salary for benefits.