Federal employees and retirees who want more information on what Congress and the presidential candidates have — or have not — done for the government workforce have another resource ahead of the November elections.
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association released its 114th Congress voting scorecard. The association releases the congressional voting record on bills related to the federal workforce and retirees every two years. This is the first scorecard that includes the voting records of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
Jessica Klement, NARFE legislative director, said questionnaires were also sent to the candidates. Hillary Clinton’s answers will run verbatim in the October issue of the association’s magazine. Klement said despite repeated requests, Donald Trump’s campaign did not respond with answers.
This year’s scorecard includes 10 House votes — the most House votes NARFE has scored since the scorecard started during the 97th Congress — and five Senate votes.
“If I’m the average NARFE member, I’m not sure how I’m going to vote, or I don’t always vote the party lines, or I don’t really know my member of Congress, I think the scorecard very easily puts things at your fingertips to help you, to guide you in the voting booth,” Klement said. “Not all 10 of those House votes are going to be important to every NARFE member. Which one is important to you, which one to you stands out, how did your member of Congress vote on that one or those two or those three.”
A majority of the bills relate to budget and appropriations, though NARFE highlighted the Government Reform and Improvement Act, the Retail Investor Protection Act and the Disapproving DOL Fiduciary Rule, as legislation important to its members.
“The most egregious is easily the budget vote from last year,” Klement said. “The budget that took $318 billion from a constituency that has already given $120 billion. How did my member of Congress vote when the House tried to take $318 billion away from me as a federal employee or federal retiree?”
The scorecard includes each congressional member and their votes on the 15 bills, as well as the lawmaker’s lifetime percentage
According to the scorecard, Clinton, who served as a New York senator from 2001-09, had a 100 percent lifetime record. Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) also had a 100 percent lifetime record since he took office in 2012.
Republican presidential candidate Trump has never served in public office. His vice presidential candidate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), served as a representative for Indiana from 2001-12. He has a 0 percent lifetime record.
Based on NARFE’s scoring, voting fell along party lines, with a majority of Democrats agreeing with NARFE’s position on the various bills, while Republicans did not support as many NARFE legislative positions.
In terms of states, California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut had high scores, compared to states like Texas, Indiana and Alabama.
“I think the overall higher scores on the NARFE voting scorecard tend to skew toward where there are more federal employees,” Klement said. “I don’t think that would surprise anyone. Talking 10, 15 years ago, federal employees wasn’t such a partisan issue the way it has become nowadays. You had your members who represented federal employees who tend to be more favorable to our issues and of retirees as well. Congress itself is becoming a lot more polarized. I think federal employees and retiree issues are becoming more polarized as well. I think our issues trend with the nature of Congress.”
Klement said there’s a belief in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, that federal pay and benefits “are a drain on the federal government’s limited financial resources.”
Whether that belief will continue as well as what else the next scorecard could bring, Klement couldn’t say.
“It’s hard to predict what a role federal employee issues will play in the White House,” Klement said. “I think there’s a ton of uncertainty as it relates to the next two years.”