House to consider extending federal pay freeze

January 16, 2013
Capitol Fall

The House will consider legislation next week that would extend the freeze on basic federal pay rates through the end of 2013, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and cosponsored by 28 Republicans, would block a planned raise of  0.5 percent that is scheduled to take effect  after a temporary spending measure expires in March.
Republicans have introduced similar legislation previously, but Cantor’s quick scheduling of the bill for a vote demonstrates the priority House GOP members give to holding down federal pay.

“President Obama continues to demonstrate he is not serious about dealing with our debt crisis,” Cantor said. “At a time when we should be focused on helping families get on solid financial footing, Members of Congress, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and federal employees don’t need a raise. This across the board pay hike issued by President Obama through executive order will cost hardworking taxpayers $11 billion. It’s time to get serious about reining in Washington’s out of control spending and work together to solve the problem, not make it worse. We simply can’t afford it.”

DeSantis said Obama’s plan for a pay hike shows “his penchant for unrestrained spending…..we simply cannot afford this unnecessary and unilateral action by the President. This bill rescinds the President’s action and makes clear that the federal workforce – including cabinet secretaries, Members of Congress, and other salaried employees – will not receive an across-the-board pay increase this year.”

Not all Republicans, however, agree with this approach.

“I’m voting no and I’m speaking against it,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

Citing the work of federal employees, including FBI agents, slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, cancer researchers and the CIA officers who found Osama bin Laden, Wolf added: “It is a bad idea.”

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the DeSantis bill “is merely a continuation of the anti-federal worker line of attack that became an all-too-familiar staple of the 112th Congress, particularly in the House. More than two dozen bills were introduced during that two-year period aimed at federal pay, benefits and rights. NTEU strongly opposes the DeSantis bill and will work aggressively to defeat it.”

American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said “federal salaries have not been adjusted since January 2010, and new employees will pay nearly four times more than their coworkers for retirement benefits. These measures will cost employees and save taxpayers more than $103 billion over the next decade.”

Extending the freeze, he added, “would unfairly punish hard-working Americans who help ensure the safety, security and prosperity of our great country each and every day.”

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP
federaldiary@washpost.com

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.
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