By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 4, 2010; 8:49 AM
President Obama ordered a freeze Tuesday on all bonuses and other monetary awards to federal political appointees, saying "like households and businesses across the country, the federal government is tightening its belt."
Obama is under intense political pressure to close the federal budget deficit, and the presidential memo he issued Tuesday night is the latest in a series of personnel decisions he has made to help do so.
Upon taking office, he froze the salaries of his senior staff members. And in his budget proposal, he called for a salary freeze for all senior political appointees across the federal government, a step that would require congressional approval.
Obama does not need legislation to enact the freeze he ordered Tuesday, which suspends "cash awards, quality step increases, bonuses and similar discretionary payments or salary adjustments" to any federal political appointee.
White House officials estimate that 2,900 employees will be affected by the order, which is projected to save the government $1.9 million a year.
"I appreciate the hard work of our Federal workforce, and understand how important these payments can be to many workers and their families," Obama wrote in the memo. "Yet like households and businesses across the country, we need to make tough choices about how to spend our funds."