Undermining a pledge -- Massie wouldn't be able to opt out of congressional pension

04/29/2012 04:49 PM

For the last week, Thomas Massie, the 4th Congressional District candidate and Lewis County judge-executive, has sought to gain more traction with voters by pledging to turn down a congressional pension, if elected.

The only problem? He can’t.

Members of Congress can’t opt out of the program. Since 1986, those elected to Congress have been covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System that takes 1.3 percent of their pay, according to congressional benefits information. A member of Congress must serve for at least five years to be vested.

Others have tried to turn down their congressional benefits. Most recently, freshman Republican Congressman Richard Nugent of Florida tried to reject the congressional pension because he already was drawing one from his job in local law enforcement, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

So Nugent sponsored a bill he called the “Congress is Not a Career Act,” H.R. 981,| that has been referred to the House Administration Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but it hasn’t been acted upon. It has three cosponsors.

Massie most recently has said he wouldn’t accept health coverage through Congress. If elected, he could opt out of that.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.