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House overrides Obama, votes to freeze federal pay for third year

Posted by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:08 AM
  • 26 Replies


The House voted Friday to freeze the pay of federal workers for the third year in a row over the objections of congressional Democrats and the Obama administration.

Members voted 261-154 in favor of the bill, which would also lock in a pay freeze for members of Congress. It exempts people serving in the military. 

The bill won significant support from Democrats — 43 voted for it — while 10 Republicans voted against it.

The legislation is an attempt to override President Obama's executive order in December that seeks to give federal workers a 0.5 percent pay hike in late March. That order incensed congressional Republicans, who criticized it as an attempt to seize control of an issue that has traditionally been under Congress's purview.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the bill is needed to control the costs of the federal government where possible, in order to pursue other objectives.

"It is a small price to pay, consistent with the President's previous pay freeze, to hold pay increases of federal employees for one more year," Issa said during debate.

"We could do this today, or we could cut the National Institutes of Health. We could do this today, or we could park two or three of our aircraft carriers and lay off the crews."

The Obama administration on Wednesday said it opposes the bill, and that its proposed pay hike would "help ensure that the government remains competitive in attracting and retaining the Nationˈs best and brightest individuals for public service."

That statement did not go so far as saying Obama would veto the bill. Such a threat is most likely not needed, as the Senate is not expected to consider the House bill.

However, House Republicans will likely have another chance to keep federal pay frozen. Congress is expected to consider another continuing spending resolution for the rest of 2013 before late March, when the current resolution expires.

As they did earlier in the week, Democrats charged Republicans with forcing federal workers to shoulder the costs of deficit reduction.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said federal workers have "already contributed more than $100 billion towards reducing the deficit and funding unemployment benefits for millions of American workers."

"No other group of Americans have contributed more to reducing the deficit," he said.

Issa rejected that assessment by noting that the $100 billion price tag on the pay freeze is over 10 years, and that it was less than $10 billion in the first year of the freeze.

"Many of those sacrifices won't occur because people aren't necessarily be here for all ten years," he added.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said three years of a pay freeze is a "punishing cut in pay."

"Federal employees have not asked for a pass," she said. "But there is no way to justify singling them out as a solitary target, alone, repeatedly, picked out and picked on for cuts apart from the rest of the federal budget."

But Issa rejected that argument as well, and criticized Democrats for calling "$274 a catastrophe for the federal workforce." That's the amount a worker earning about $55,000 a year would not be getting from the 0.5 percent pay hike if the bill became law.

Issa also argued that federal workers have seen pay increases, as they are given step increases within their pay grade.

Only two Republicans — Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) — spoke against the bill during the debate. Both argued that FBI agents, CIA agents and other federal first-responders should not have their pay frozen given that their work puts their lives at risk.

"I've talked to the CIA officers who are putting their lives on the line every single minute of every day," LoBiondo said. "They don't know when an attack is coming on them. They don't know from which direction. And we are going to tell them that they should not get even a single dollar? Shame. That's not what we should be about."

The legislation also freezes the pay of members of Congress. Democrats charged that Republicans included that language just to ensure support for the bill, and argued that there has been no threat to increasing the pay of members of Congress for the last few years.

On Thursday, however, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that freezing the pay of members undermines the dignity of the job. "I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded," she said.

by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:08 AM
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Replies (1-10):
candlegal
by Judy on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:13 AM
3 moms liked this

Really Nancy, where was your dignity when you were telling congress they had to pass obamacare in order to read the bill.  




Quote:

On Thursday, however, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that freezing the pay of members undermines the dignity of the job. "I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded," she said.

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:30 AM
8 moms liked this

what the fuck is wrong with you people. Federal workers haven't had a raise in 3 years, you claimed a 1% raise for the military who has gotten a raise every year during that same time period wasn't enough. Why do you think the work force that supports our  military and keep our government working. Congress gives themselves raises every year.

This is another example of a congress that doesn't do the best thing for this country.

4g4b
by Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 7:55 AM
2 moms liked this
No wonder the zombie apocalypse never happened if they were looking for brains they starved to death in congress:D
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momalee40
by on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:02 AM
1 mom liked this
No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...
mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM

 

yea they don't care - because conservatives don't have the skills and education to make a decent living they don't think anyone else should be able to. They don't care that the civilian workforce hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. There are open positions in the GS workforce that aren't being filled because of the hiring freeze. This is absolutely impacting our government. More with less is never a good thing

Quoting momalee40:

No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...


 

candlegal
by Judy on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:21 AM

I take it you work for the federal government.

Quoting mikiemom:


yea they don't care - because conservatives don't have the skills and education to make a decent living they don't think anyone else should be able to. They don't care that the civilian workforce hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. There are open positions in the GS workforce that aren't being filled because of the hiring freeze. This is absolutely impacting our government. More with less is never a good thing

Quoting momalee40:

No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...




MeAndTommyLee
by Gold Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:31 AM

"The bill won significant support from Democrats....."


Quoting mikiemom:

 

yea they don't care - because conservatives don't have the skills and education to make a decent living they don't think anyone else should be able to. They don't care that the civilian workforce hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. There are open positions in the GS workforce that aren't being filled because of the hiring freeze. This is absolutely impacting our government. More with less is never a good thing

Quoting momalee40:

No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...

 

 


 

candlegal
by Judy on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Here is a little more detail


WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Friday to extend a pay freeze for federal workers, already in effect for more than two years, for another nine months.

Republicans, who largely backed the measure, said it would save $11 billion in the long run and that economically secure public servants could go a little longer without a raise.

Most Democrats, and the White House, criticized the bill as an example of anti-government bias and said Republicans, instead of debating a bill that has little chance of advancing in the Democratic-controlled Senate, should be concentrating on avoiding the pending automatic cuts to federal programs that could have a painful effect on the economy.

The House measure, approved on a 261-154 vote, blocks an executive order issued by President Barack Obama last December that would give the nation's 2 million civilian federal workers a 0.5 percent cost-of-living raise from March 27, when the current federal spending agreement expires, through the end of the year.

The White House has indicated it will also include a 1 percent federal pay increase in its 2014 budget proposal.

The White House, in a statement, opposed the House bill, saying federal workers have already done more than their part in bringing down the deficit and that the legislation was added burden on those who " assure the safety of this country's food and airways, defend the homeland, provide health care to the nation's veterans, search for cures to devastating diseases and provide vital support to our troops at home and abroad."

Obama in 2010 initiated a two-year freeze on federal COLAs as part of an effort to reduce the deficit. Federal worker unions and others opposing the bill say that, with the freeze and higher pension contributions required of new workers, federal employees are already helping save $103 billion over a 10-year period.

But the bill's sponsor, freshman Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said his "modest" bill "simply recognizes our current fiscal reality and the fact that government salaries must bear some relationship to the private sector salaries that support them." His bill, estimated at saving $11 billion over 10 years, would also extend the freeze on congressional member pay, now running through September, until the end of the year.

The freeze only applies to cost-of-living adjustments, and not merit and longevity raises. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee cited figures showing that, with merit-based raises and other "step" increases, the median pay for a federal employee in September last year was $72,714, up more than $3,000 from two years earlier. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the pay freeze would cost each employee $274 for the year.

Those supporting the freeze say the average federal worker compensation, including benefits, is nearly double the median U.S. household income. They point to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office study showing that, while wages are similar for federal workers and comparable private sector workers, federal workers on the whole had more generous benefit packages. Overall, it said, total compensation is 16 percent higher in the public sector.

But federal worker unions rely on Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys showing that in most localities federal employees trail behind private sector counterparts in wages. This is most evident for more highly educated employees who give up lucrative opportunities in the private sector to serve the public.

National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen M. Kelley said the House bill was "a particularly galling step in light of the fact that federal workers have contributed far more than any other group to economic recovery and deficit reduction."

Opponents warned that government workers will also be the first to be hit if Congress fails to find a way to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts to occur at the end of this month or come up with a new spending plan when the current law covering federal spending expires at the end of March. "The salary freeze, along with the threat of furloughs, layoffs and another complete government shutdown, are a punishment in search of a crime," said American Federal of Government Employees national president J. David Cox.

One of the harshest critics of the bill was Republican Frank Wolf, whose northern Virginia district includes many federal workers. "This bill is nothing more than a political stunt that targets the hardworking, dedicated men and women of the civil service," he said in a letter to his GOP colleagues, reminding them that people who haven't seen a raise in more than two years include CIA and FBI agents, border and customs agents, nurses and doctors at VA facilities, food inspectors, firefighters at national forests and NASA astronauts and engineers.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, there were about 2.1 million civilian workers in 2011. The number has been consistently around the 2 million mark for the past 50 years.

source

candlegal
by Judy on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:36 AM

That won't matter to some.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

"The bill won significant support from Democrats....."


Quoting mikiemom:


yea they don't care - because conservatives don't have the skills and education to make a decent living they don't think anyone else should be able to. They don't care that the civilian workforce hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. There are open positions in the GS workforce that aren't being filled because of the hiring freeze. This is absolutely impacting our government. More with less is never a good thing

Quoting momalee40:

No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...






talia-mom
by Gold Member on Feb. 16, 2013 at 9:37 AM
1 mom liked this

Yet many democrats voted for it.  


Quoting mikiemom:


yea they don't care - because conservatives don't have the skills and education to make a decent living they don't think anyone else should be able to. They don't care that the civilian workforce hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years. There are open positions in the GS workforce that aren't being filled because of the hiring freeze. This is absolutely impacting our government. More with less is never a good thing

Quoting momalee40:

No pay raise ? Yes that sucks but right now we are waiting on word that my dh and all Dept of defense civilian employees will be forced to take 22 days of unpaid leave over the summer, all training cancelled and drill duty checks cut in half ( those last effect mainly National Guard and Reserves). That would mean almost 700 a month cut in our income for several months. Thats our house payment...





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