The only out lesbian in Congress told reporters Wednesday the administration has sent to her the necessary information on finding funds to pay for domestic partner benefits legislation for federal workers.
Asked by DC Agenda whether the U.S. Office of Personnel Management had yet provided the data as requested by lawmakers, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) replied, “To me.”
The legislation, known as the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, would make available to the same-sex partners of federal workers the same benefits available to the spouses of straight workers, including health and pension benefits.
“We’ll be able to pay for it,” Baldwin, the bill’s sponsor, added. “I’m confident that we will be able to offset it so that it will meet statutory pay-go requirements.”
Both the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over the legislation reported out the bill late last year, but supporters have said they wouldn’t move the bill to the floor unless OPM provided information on how to pay for the legislation’s cost – an estimated $63 million each year — within the agency’s existing budget.
Baldwin said she didn’t want to offer more information publicly on how OPM found the needed funds to pay for the legislation.
“The last thing you want to do is put a pay-for out there,” she said. “Somebody else will grab it before I’m ready to take the bill to the floor because everyone wants money to pay for their bill.”
Baldwin said she’s “committed to see that bill advance” this year and said supporters are working out when the legislation would come to the House floor. She said the focus for vote counting right now is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and predicted ENDA would to come to floor before the domestic partner bill.