AUSA Retirement Benefits Bills Introduced
By Andrew Ramonas | November 18, 2021 10:08 am

Members of Congress introduced legislation in the House and Senate Tuesday to improve retirement benefits for rank-and-file federal prosecutors.

The approximately 5,500 Assistant U.S. Attorneys around the country receive fewer retirement benefits than corrections and probation officers — a fact that has long rankled the prosecutors.

The bipartisan Enhanced Restitution Enforcement And Equitable Treatment Act of 2009 would bring AUSA retirement assistance in line with benefits for other law enforcement officials. The bill would also improve Justice Department efforts to collect fines and other money owed to the federal government in order to help fund the retirement benefits.

“Having served as a prosecutor for many years in Vermont, I know well the integral role prosecutors play in the administration of justice and keeping our communities safe,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who introduced the bill in the Senate, said in a statement. “By enhancing the retirement benefits for these prosecutors, we make service as an Assistant U.S Attorney a more attractive path for talented young lawyers who are considering public service.”

Congress has mulled legislation on AUSA retirement benefits for the past decade. In the last Congress, retirement assistance bills in the Senate and House did not move out of committee.

More recently, “fallout” from the botched corruption case against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), in which prosecutors from the Public Integrity Section at Main Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alaska are under investigation for errors that led to withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense, may have contributed to delays in introducing the legislation, according to an account on the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Web site.

Steven Cook, president of NAASUA, said an improved retirement benefit package is the “single most important issue” for AUSAs. His organization, which serves as a voice for AUSAs in the 94 U.S. Attorney offices, met earlier this year with members of Congress and Attorney General Eric Holder about AUSA retirement assistanc

“It being introduced, in the House and Senate, is especially important to our members,” Cook, an AUSA in the Eastern District of Tennessee, told Main Justice.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a former chairman of the Judiciary panel, in addition to Leahy. The House legislation is sponsored by Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who are both members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Under the current system, Assistant U.S. Attorneys receive fewer retirement benefits than probation officers, corrections officers, and some corrections employees not serving in a law enforcement position.  The legislation will also help off-set the retirement benefits by bolstering the Department of Justice’s ability to recover money owed to the Federal Government as a result of fines or other judgments.

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