A Republican lawmaker has included an extension to the federal pay freeze in a proposal to fund government and avoid a shutdown after March 27, when the current appropriations agreement runs out.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., maintained sequestration-level spending in the bill to fund government through Sept. 30, with exceptions for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, and several additional agencies and programs.
The bill would add $10.4 billion to the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance budget. It would also allow additional funding for the FBI and Customs and Border Protection to help them keep current staffing levels. Those two agencies had planned to cut the equivalent of about 5,000 combined employees.
Rogers’ bill also would increase embassy security spending by $2 billion in light of findings from investigations into the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. It would add funding to federal prison operations and Forest Service wildfire suppression efforts.
In December 2012, President Obama ordered a 0.5 percent across-the-board pay raise at the end of the current continuing resolution. Republicans in Congress, however, have repeatedly targeted the federal workforce’s pay in budget proposals. The new appropriations plan maintains the 1.7 percent increase for military pay included in the 2013 Defense authorization bill.
Rogers said lawmakers must pass his bill to avoid a government shutdown while Congress addresses longer-term budget challenges.
“It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices, and it’s up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future,” Rogers said. “But right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation. This bill will fund essential federal programs and services, help maintain our national security, and take a potential shutdown off the table. This CR package is the right thing to do, and it’s the right time to do it.”