of plaintiff's FECA payments. DOL, in an apparent change of position, honored the garnishment. Her judgment amounted to over.$ 19,000. $ 1,504 per month was garnished for past alimony and child support leaving plaintiff with $ 1,231 per month for his own support and maintenance. In this connection, it is noted that plaintiff has contended that at times he may have sent payments directly to his children and his wife, however, that information is not reflected in the court records. Notwithstanding the above, or the somewhat confused breakdown of the judgment in excess of.$ 19,000, it seems clear that plaintiff is presently indebted for alimony and child support payments.
Pending final disposition of this case, the Court required the defendant to deposit the disputed payment into the Registry of this Court in the amount of $ 1,504 per month.
The plaintiff, in his motion for summary judgment, has asked the Court to decide several issues. First, he asks the Court to determine whether FECA benefits are subject to garnishment and whether it was the intent of Congress to permit garnishment of compensation benefits for delinquent alimony and child support payments. Second, he asks that the Court determine whether the Iowa statutes specifically and expressly exempt compensation payments for creditors. Third, he argues that it is inconsistent with due process to allow the garnishment of 55 percent of his FECA benefit when the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), specifically 15 U.S.C. §§ 1671-1677, prohibits garnishment of any amount which exceeds 25 percent of a wage earner's income and where the Iowa statute purportedly incorporates the provisions of the CCPA. Fourth, he argues that the allowable limit for garnishment under the Iowa law is not more than $ 250 per year for each individual creditor. Fifth, he seeks to challenge the.$ 19,000 plus judgment which is the basis for the garnishment.
As to the last four points, the Court concludes that it need not address those issues since it seems clear that the benefits under the FECA are not subject to garnishment. The Court also notes that the information before it is insufficient for the Court to address those issues in any event. For example, it is still unknown how the Iowa court calculated the arrearages for alimony and child support. Moreover, there is no breakdown for alimony and child support in the Iowa judgment. Additionally, it appears that plaintiff has been less than diligent in pursuing his rights in the Iowa court and that any challenge to the amount of the judgment for past alimony and child support should be made there and not in this court.
When plaintiff's position changed he could have petitioned the Iowa court to modify his support payments. If plaintiff made any payments directly to his wife or his children he could have brought that matter to the attention of the Iowa court. It appears however that, rather than pursuing his remedies in that court, he simply chose to assume that, regardless of any order or garnishment issued by that court, his funds were not subject to garnishment under the FECA. However, this Court need not address those issues since it concludes that the FECA benefits are not subject to garnishment.
It is quite clear that the sovereign may only be sued to the extent that Congress has expressly and specifically waived sovereign immunity. United States v. Orleans, 425 U.S. 807, 814, 96 S. Ct. 1971, 1976, 48 L. Ed. 2d 390 (1976); United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586, 61 S. Ct. 767, 769, 85 L. Ed. 1058 (1941). This also means that absent a waiver of sovereign immunity, a creditor cannot prevail in a garnishment proceeding against the government. Schlaefer v. Schlaefer, 71 App. D.C. 350, 356, 112 F.2d 177, 183 (1940); McGrew v. McGrew, 59 App. D.C. 230, 233, 38 F.2d 541, 544 (1930).
Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 659 to provide that "moneys (the entitlement to which is based upon remuneration for employment) due from, or payable by the United States ... shall be subject ... to legal process brought for the enforcement, against such individual of his legal obligations to provide child support or make alimony payments". This section served as a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. 42 U.S.C. § 659(a). See Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, 439 U.S. 572, 599, n. 4, 99 S. Ct. 802, 817, n. 4, 59 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1979) (Stewart, J. dissenting); S.Rep.No. 93-1356, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in, (1974) U.S. Code Cong. & Admin.News 8133, 8157. Congress has further provided that:
(f) Entitlement of an individual to any money shall be deemed to be "based upon remuneration for employment', if such money consists of-