House to consider pay freeze extension

The House plans to vote this week on a bill that would extend the pay freeze for federal employees and lawmakers -- a move opposed by the White House and labor unions for its content and its process.

The bill, H.R. 3835, introduced earlier this month by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., would extend the pay freeze for an additional year.

The proposal runs in opposition to the Obama administration’s announcement earlier this month that the president would recommend giving civilian federal employees a 0.5 percent raise in fiscal 2013.

The vote on H.R. 3835 will take place under a suspension of the rules, a legislative procedure that allows for a vote on a bill without opportunity for public comment or amendment. Congress typically uses the process on non-controversial bills with bipartisan support.

The measure also extends the salary freeze for members of Congress, with no changes or cost of living adjustments available to lawmakers until the end of 2013. In a letter to all House members Monday, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley called this a “politically disingenuous” move.

“Clearly, this bill . . . is a political ploy setting up a Hobson’s choice that would require representatives to vote against extending the freeze for themselves in order to lift the freeze on federal employees,” she wrote.

Kelley argued that federal workers are making a $60 billion contribution over 10 years to reducing the federal deficit under the current pay freeze. The House voted in December 2011 to extend the current payroll tax cut for a year, partly through prolonging a salary freeze for federal employees and lawmakers and requiring both groups to contribute more to their pensions.

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