Cuts in pay, benefits could be part of shutdown deal

This story has been updated.

Cutting the pay and benefits of federal employees could be part of negotiations among lawmakers and the White House to avoid a government shutdown, according to a story in The Washington Post.

The Post reported on Friday that officials are contemplating cost-saving measures that could include denying bonuses and within-grade step increases to feds to achieve a $1.3 billion savings. The story cites a Republican aide and a senior administration official as sources.

The National Treasury Employees Union issued a statement criticizing any proposal that would further reduce federal employees' pay and benefits. "To add the idea that federal employee pay would be cut further is a gross injustice to them and to their service to our nation," said NTEU President Colleen Kelley.

The National Federation of Federal Employees also came out against any scenario in which federal pay and benefits are cut to avoid a shutdown. "We hope that an agreement can be made to fund the federal government before a shutdown occurs, but any further cuts that are targeted at the federal workforce should be considered unacceptable," wrote NFFE President William R. Dougan in a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

President Obama and Congress agreed on a two-year pay freeze on federal salaries, which took effect in January.

At a March hearing on federal pay, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, peppered Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry with questions and statistics on the net increase of federal employees from 2008 to 2010, bonuses and step increases for some civil servants, and whether the pay freeze as proposed actually would save any money. Berry defended the freeze as a cost-saving measure, and noted that most of the awards for federal employees amounted to less than $1,000 per worker.

During the same hearing, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., followed up on Chaffetz's questions, asking Berry whether a freeze on within-grade, or step increases, was possible this year to make the president's freeze a "real one." At the time, Berry said he did not think that was possible at the moment, and defended within-grade increases as a "natural progression" for federal workers.

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