GOP lawmakers seek to freeze bonuses, step increases

House lawmakers want to take the two-year civilian pay freeze a step further by canceling any increase in compensation this year.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Wednesday introduced an amendment to House spending legislation that would deny federal employees step increases allowed under the General Schedule. A similar amendment to the continuing resolution from Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., would prevent any appropriated funds from being used for federal employee salary increases.

President Obama in November announced a two-year pay freeze for all federal civilians, a provision supported in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal released on Monday. The president's freeze, however, would not apply to promotions, step increases or awards.

Union leaders on Wednesday expressed opposition to the amendments.

"Taking steps to deny federal employees salary adjustments to correspond with promotions and performance awards, the only means through which an employee can receive a pay raise over the next two years, exacerbates the financial strain already shouldered by these public servants," wrote Federal Managers Association National President Patricia Niehaus in a letter to lawmakers. "Headlines painting feds as overpaid, underqualified and completely insulated from the recession score points through the promotion of falsehoods based on biased data manipulation. To see lawmakers latch onto these reports as 'fact' is truly disheartening." Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, called the amendments onerous and poorly-drafted. The proposals single out federal employees and would have a negative effect on government's recruitment and retention efforts, as well as agency missions, she said.

The proposals come on the heels of legislation aimed at freezing federal hiring. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., late last week introduced a bill that would reduce the size of the federal workforce by attrition, adding only one hire for every two employees who retire or leave government service.

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