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House Tries to Block Obama’s Order to Raise Federal Salaries

Dozens of Democrats join GOP in extension of pay freeze, but Harry Reid will likely see to a quick thaw.

Bridget Johnson


February 16, 2013 - 12:25 am
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“What actually is being asked to be given up by the typical federal worker – the one the president is calling a huge sacrifice – is $274 per employee per year,” Issa said on the floor.

After the bill’s passage Issa noted a Congressional Budget Office study that found federal employees are on average compensated 16 percent more than their private-sector counterparts.

“In fact, during the so-called ‘pay freeze’ federal employee pay has gone up by $3,328 while private sector pay has gone up only $1,404. The federal employee attrition rate is the same now as it was before the so-called ‘pay freeze.’ Nearly half-a-million federal employees make more than 100,000 per year,” Issa said.

“If President Obama does not get serious about finding spending cuts to avoid his sequestration, many federal employees will be furloughed, resulting in an actual reduction in compensation and harm to productivity.”

“The executive order proposed by the President is evidence that he clearly does not understand that spending continues to be the biggest problem in Washington,” said Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio). “With the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, we should be making strides to reduce our spending, not spending more money that we do not have.”

A statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday noted that the current freeze already saved more than $60 billion over 10 years.

“Federal civilian employees are central to the Federal Governmentˈs success in serving the American people. They assure the safety of this countryˈs food and airways, defend the homeland, provide health care to the Nationˈs veterans, search for cures to devastating diseases, and provide vital support to our troops at home and abroad,” the OMB statement said.

“The President issued Executive Order 13635 to ensure that when this pay freeze expires, Federal employees would receive the increase proposed by the President without triggering the higher increase that would otherwise take place under statute. This modest pay increase will help ensure that the Government remains competitive in attracting and retaining the Nationˈs best and brightest individuals for public service.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said “these kinds of measures might not be necessary if Senate Democrats had passed a budget at any point in the last four years, or if the president would submit a responsible budget to Congress on time.”

“But until Washington gets serious about addressing its spending problem, and stops making it harder for small businesses to hire, the federal government shouldn’t be giving itself an across-the-board pay raise,” Boehner added.

Democrats who crossed over to the GOP side on the bill predictably included the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs, but also some more liberal members such as Rep. John Tierney — the only member of the all-Dem Massachusetts delegation to vote in favor of extending the freeze — and Rep. Al Green (D-Texas).

But Democratic opponents took solace in their upper-chamber counterparts seeing that the bill would probably never be brought to the Senate floor.

“The only good thing I can say about the bill before us today is that it has zero chance of becoming law,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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