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GPO/WEP Repeal Bills Proposed

Bills to eliminate Social Security's government pension offset (GPO) and windfall elimination provision (WEP) have been introduced in the House and Senate.

GPO reduces or eliminates Social Security spousal and survivors benefits for retirees who collect pensions from jobs that were not covered by the program, while WEP cuts Social Security retirement benefits for individuals who are eligible for them in addition to pensions from non-covered jobs.

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., proposed the House bill, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Senate version.

Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security officials have expressed concern that the bills could help to advance efforts to force all newly-hired state and local workers to participate in Social Security, since some lawmakers may see mandatory coverage as a way to make the GPO/WEP issue go away. This is of even greater concern now that Democrats have committed Congress to operating under "pay-as-you-go" budget rules. Repealing GPO and WEP would cost the federal government $62 billion over 10 years, while mandatory coverage would increase federal revenues by $44 billion over five years. That additional money, though, would come from states and localities, causing financial hardships that could lead to cuts in vital government services and instability in public pension funds.

When Republicans controlled Capitol Hill, congressional leaders resisted efforts to bring bills to repeal GPO and WEP to a vote, largely because of the cost. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cosponsored a repeal bill in the past Congress that had more than half of the members of the House as cosponsors, but she did not sign an unsuccessful "discharge petition," which would have forced a floor vote on the bill if it had the support of a majority of the chamber.


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