The Bipartisan Bill Now Has More Than 290 Cosponsors — Meaning U.S. House Leadership Must Move it to the Floor for a Full Vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) — as well as additional Members of Congress and public employee advocacy organizations — pushed for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House to advance their bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act, which now has more than 290 cosponsors and under U.S. House rules must be brought forward for consideration.
The Social Security Fairness Act would eliminate both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), two provisions of the Social Security Act that unfairly reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for millions of Americans who have devoted much of their careers to public service — including police officers, firefighters, federal employees, and educators. Spanberger and Davis introduced the Social Security Fairness Act in January 2021 at the start of the 117th Congress.
Spanberger and Davis were joined by U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA-06) and Julia Letlow (R-LA-05). Additionally, they were joined by representatives from the National Fraternal Order of Police, National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), California Retired Teachers’ Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Senior Citizens League, National Education Association (NEA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Click here to watch a video recording of the full event.
“The Social Security Fairness Act recognizes the tremendous sacrifices that come with serving our communities, our states, and our country. At this moment, there is strong, bipartisan momentum for delivering long overdue peace of mind to America’s public servants by eliminating the WEP and the GPO. We need to get it done,” said Spanberger. “As a Representative of many current and retired federal employees, law enforcement officers, and educators, I am committed to moving our legislation forward and finally fixing this wrong. I want to thank the advocates who joined us at last week’s event and who have been pushing nonstop to make this day a reality — and I also want to thank my colleague Congressman Davis for his leadership in making sure America’s police officers, firefighters, teachers, and public employees receive the retirement security they deserve.”
“We secured a victory for the bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act when House Leadership reversed their rule to stop our bill from receiving a vote on the floor,” said Davis. “We are one step closer to our vote in September to protect the hard-earned benefits of millions of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public service workers. I’d like to thank my friend Rep. Spanberger, advocates, and many others for all their work on our bill. It’s time for Congress to get the job done.”
“The last thing in the world we need to be doing now is defunding teachers, firefighters, police officers and other local and state public servants,” said Graves. “The far majority are underpaid. No one goes into public service to make big money. They do it to make a big difference. Teachers, police, firefighters, and countless local and state public servants are the crucial scaffolding of our society. The WEP and GPO are severe penalties that defund public servants of much of their lifetime of retirement earnings. After more than 40 years of efforts to change this law, we’ve reached a high-water mark of 293 cosponsors to our bill. This achievement is decades in the making and has remained a top priority of mine and thousands of Louisiana public servants. I am proud to see the effort from a bipartisan coalition of members, advocates, and retirees is going to fix this broken policy because it unfairly punishes our public servants. I have promised folks at home we would not stop until the leadership of the U.S. House brings the bill to the floor for a vote. We have rallied support for years to break through this logjam and get this overdue legislation enacted into law. It’s time to make it right for the countless teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, and all the local and state public servants who are being wrongly penalized under current law.”
“If we pass H.R. 82, we can finally make whole the 2 million Americans who are penalized under WEP and GPO,” said Letlow. “This issue is critical for Louisiana, the seventh most impacted state in the Union. I’m grateful for the hard work of Congressman Davis and Congresswoman Spanberger to fix this problem. The momentum is behind us to end these unfair penalties once and for all.”
“Ultimately, the Social Security Fairness Act is about fairness to public employees who served their communities—local governments which chose decades ago to construct a retirement system separate from Social Security Act,” saidPatrick Yoes, National President, Fraternal Order of Police. “However, when these public employees earn a Social Security benefit through other work, they should receive that benefit in full without being penalized because of their public service.”
“NARFE has pushed for years to repeal the unfair WEP and GPO penalties,” said Ken Thomas, President, National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE). “Thanks in no small part to the tireless advocacy efforts of NARFE’s members, the Social Security Fairness Act, H.R. 82, has surpassed the critical threshold of 290 cosponsors, which, if maintained, could assure its consideration by the full House. Today, with the support of these 294 lawmakers, we are closer than ever to righting this wrong.”
“California Retired Teachers Association (CalRTA) was honored to speak on behalf of educators and public service workers who are unjustly penalized by the WEP and GPO. Congresswoman Spanberger and Congressman Davis represent what we all believe our elected officials should do, work together on a bipartisan bill to right a wrong,” said Susan Dixon, President Elect, California Retired Teachers’ Association. “The time is now for leadership to do their job and bring H.R. 82 (full repeal of the WEP and GPO) to a vote so congress can do their job and pass repeal of WEP and GPO.”
“Our public service workers have spent the last two years on the front lines of a pandemic making sure our kids could keep learning and our water kept running—and yet many of them don’t have retirement security, all because of Social Security’s Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision. It’s common sense to make sure Americans can depend on a stable retirement, and it’s common decency to take care of the people who take care of us,” said Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers. “The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82) would ensure that all public service workers—whether they are educators, healthcare professionals, and other state and local government employees who count on Social Security as an integral part of their retirement—are no longer denied the benefits they have earned. We firmly support this bill and urge Congress to pass it.”
“The rationale for both the WEP and the GPO — that the Social Security benefit formula is overly generous to these individuals is unjustifiable today,” said Rick Delaney, Chairman, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). “We need to stop penalizing public service employees by taking the Social Security benefits they rightfully paid for.”
In 2019, the U.S. House established a process for fast-tracking floor consideration of legislation that garners broad, bipartisan support. Specifically, legislation that earns 290 cosponsors can be placed on the “Consensus Calendar.” After 25 legislative days on the Consensus Calendar without committee action, the bill’s sponsor can file for a floor vote.
Currently, the WEP reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. For example, educators who do not earn Social Security in the public schools but who work part-time or during the summer in jobs covered by Social Security have reduced benefits, even though they pay into the system just like others. Likewise, the GPO affects the spousal benefits of people who work as federal, state, or local government employees — including police officers, firefighters, and educators — if the job is not covered by Social Security. The GPO reduces by two-thirds the benefit received by surviving spouses who also collect a government pension.