The Washington Times - December 5, 2013, 08:55AM

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday he is not convinced that the ongoing budget talks will result in the federal workforce paying more for their retirement benefits.

Mr. Jeffries, New York Democrat and budget committee member, suggested that it is more likely that lawmakers increase fees on airlines.

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“I think the user fee question is one we should take a close look at,” Mr. Jeffries said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” “I don’t support the notion that we should further balance the budget on the backs of public employees in the context of forcing them to pay more into the pension system.”

Mr. Jeffries and Democrats have argued that public employees have already paid enough since the collapse of the economy, saying that their pay raises have been frozen and many were furloughed during the recent government shutdown through no fault of their own.

The House and Senate budget committee talks are being led by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat. The two sides set an informal Dec. 13 deadline for striking a deal on top-line budget numbers — though some have expressed doubt that they will be able to meet that deadline.

Republicans have said they opposed any tax increases, while Democrats say they are against any significant cuts to entitlement programs. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are considering whether to increase the fees the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) charges passengers at airports.

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, released a report last month that said the federal government could save $19.3 billion over the next 10 years by having workers who are enrolled in the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System kick in another 1.2 percent of their salaries to their pension plans.