Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) on Monday broke with President Donald Trump on his executive order instituting a government-wide hiring freeze.
The two-term congresswoman represents a moderate northern Virginia district, including Loudoun and Fairfax counties, which is home to thousands of government employees.
“The federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of our federal workforce,” she said in a statement. “I don’t support this type of across-the-board freeze and think it is better to look at priorities and areas where appropriate cuts can be made and where we can consolidate efforts or identify unnecessary costs that can be eliminated.”
Although she lauded the executive order’s carve outs for military, public safety, and public health sectors, she said General Accounting Office research shows hiring freezes in Republican and Democratic administrations cost more in the long-run.
That’s due to “staffing problems, or problems in recruiting or disruption of key government operations and required services to the American people,” she said.
The order represents the second time in a few weeks that Republicans have targeted federal workers.
At the start of the new session of Congress, Comstock voted to eliminate from the House rules package a provision that would give individual members the ability to identify individual workers and slash their salaries to as little as $1.
The effort failed and Comstock voted for the entire rules package, including the Holman rule, when it came up for a floor vote. It passed easily in the GOP-controlled chamber.
As the only Republican member of Congress in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, Comstock’s reelection campaign portrayed her as a champion for local issues — such as federal workers’ benefits and Metro funding.
The height of the campaign coincided with the publication of a 2005 video in which Trump spoke in lewd terms about women. Comstock called it “disgusting” and “vile” and urged him to drop out of the race.
Outside groups poured millions of dollars into her race against Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett and independent political analysts rated it a competitive toss up.
But in the end Comstock won by six points.