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Proposed bill would allow Congress members to opt out of pension plans

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Florida Congressman Richard Nugent wants to make sure his service to the country is just that — a service and not a career.

Nugent, a Republican serving most of Marion County, submitted a bill on Jan. 15 that would allow members of the House of Representatives to opt out of their congressional pension plans.

The bill, known as the Congress is Not a Career Act, would allow House members to exclude themselves from the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Thrift Savings Plan, which are both funded through taxpayer dollars. Nugent said these plans were not mandatory until 2003.

On average, members of Congress receive about $14,000 a year for the rest of their lives for five years of service, he said.

Members of the Senate currently have the choice to opt out of these plans and Rep. Nugent said he wants to give House members the same option.

“What we are trying to do is put all the members on the same playing field,” he said.

Nugent said he doesn’t think it is right that federal tax dollars are being used to provide money for these plans. If the bill passed, it would reduce the current impact to the matching portion of five percent for each member that goes into the Thrift Savings Plan, he said.

“Articles written by our founding fathers, they really believed that you are coming up here to do your public service and then go back home to your career,” he said. “Now it has just taken on a life of its own.”

Nugent said he is not confident about the bill. He knows the suggestion will bring forth a lot of opposition from other representatives.

“You just give it the best fight that you can give,” he said, “and it may ruffle a few feathers.”

Rebekah Geier edited this story online.

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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