The largest federal employees union is lashing out at a House Republican plan to again vote to block President Obama’s proposed across-the-board pay increase for federal workers in 2013—and billing it as a way to help rein in Washington spending.
“Federal pay should not be politicized in this way,” declared American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. in a statement on Wednesday. He was responding to word on Wednesday from Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that the House next week will seek to block a 0.5 percent pay raise set in April for all federal employees.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat whose Maryland district outside of Washington is home to thousands of federal employees, was also incensed. “Those who execute our laws and provide much-needed services to communities across the nation deserve our gratitude for their diligence during these hard times—not continued disparagement resulting from a partisan agenda,” Hoyer said.
Lawmakers already have denied themselves a cost-of-living increase in 2013 to their current base salaries of $174,000 a year.
But as recently as the evening of Jan. 1, the House voted 287-129 to also prohibit a 0.5 percent pay raise from taking effect in April for all federal employees, as called for by Obama in a Dec. 27 executive order. But the Senate adjourned the session of the 112th Congress without taking up the measure.
Cantor, in his announcement Wednesday, suggested that moving ahead with such a pay hike would be a demonstration that Obama “is not serious about dealing with our debt crisis.”
“This across-the-board pay hike issued by President Obama through executive order will cost hardworking taxpayers $11 billion,” Cantor said. He added that neither members of Congress, the vice president, Cabinet secretaries, nor federal employees need a raise. “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,” he said.
The new bill to be voted on to freeze all federal-worker pay is being sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.
But the Cox, whose government employees’ union boasts 670,000 workers in the federal government and that of the District of Columbia, called the proposed upcoming pay hike “modest” and underscored that federal salaries have not been adjusted since January 2010.
“The salary freeze—along with the threat of furloughs, layoffs, and another complete government shutdown—are a punishment in search of a crime,” Cox said. “Federal employees had no part in the financial crisis and the ensuing recession, and they should not be forced into penury to reduce a deficit they had no part in creating.”
“This is not the way to recruit and retain the top-notch federal work force the American people deserve,” Hoyer said in a separate statement. “I am deeply disappointed that House Republicans once again will ask federal employees to give up their hard-earned pay because Congress cannot reach a balanced solution to deficits.”