Comments are provided on proposed legislation to allow congressional employees with long periods of service with the same member of Congress to receive civil service retirement credit for employment by the member during a break in service of the member. GAO does not recommend enactment of S. 256. Congressional employees were not covered by the civil service retirement system when it was established in 1920 and elective coverage under the system was extended to congressional employees in 1937 with the same benefit provisions other employees receive. However, in 1954, separate provisions were enacted whereby retiring congressional employees with at least 5 years of such service could elect to have their annuities computed by a special formula. The stated purpose of the 1954 provision was to recognize the uncertain tenure of congressional employees. GAO has not generally favored legislation which grants preferential treatment to specific groups or classes of employees. S. 256 would allow congressional employees retirement credit for breaks in service of up to 5 years whereas other groups of employees are allowed credit for breaks in service of no more than 3 calendar days. Moreover, congressional employees are already provided more generous retirement benefits than other Federal employees in recognition of the more tenuous nature of their employment.
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