The "Pledge to America," a document GOP members have called a "governing agenda," includes a series of proposals to cut government size and control spending. In addition to canceling unspent stimulus funds and capping discretionary spending, Republicans promise to freeze federal hiring for all non-security-related jobs. Government shouldn't grow at the expense of the private sector, the document stated.
"By cutting Congress' budget, imposing a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and reviewing every current government program to eliminate wasteful and duplicative programs, we can curb Washington's irresponsible spending habits and reduce the size of government while still fulfilling our necessary obligations," the report said.
Party leaders also pledged to continue weekly votes on the YouCut program, an initiative to rein in government spending. The public each week votes on proposals, and the winning idea goes to the House floor.
Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in May proposed eliminating the 1.4 percent federal pay hike President Obama requested for 2011, but House lawmakers rejected the legislation. Other proposals have included federal workforce cuts and a plan to fire government employees with delinquent income taxes.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, House minority leader, led party efforts to draft and review the pledge.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., called the GOP's promises a "broad assault on the federal workforce."
"The idea that a hiring freeze somehow is going to wipe out the federal deficit is nonsensical and frankly is an arbitrary, capricious and mindless approach to government," said Connolly, adding additional federal workers are needed in areas like border patrol, health care and scientific research and development.
"Even under a hiring freeze the work of the federal government would still have to be done," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. "But without sufficient staffing, federal agencies would be forced to turn to unaccountable and costly private contractors."