House considers yet another pay freeze measure

Filipchuk Oleg Vasiliovich/

House lawmakers are making sure they have all their bases covered in their efforts to freeze federal employees’ salaries for another year.

The chamber on Wednesday began debating the fiscal 2013 Homeland Security spending bill, which does not provide funding for President Obama’s proposed 0.5 percent civilian pay hike.

The White House objected to the omission in a statement of administration policy. “A permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable,” officials said. “The administration encourages the Congress to support the proposed 0.5 percent pay raise.”

The president’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill in its current form because it breaks the agreement in the 2011 Budget Control Act and would require cuts to critical programs, according to the statement.

The House is scheduled to continue debating the measure Thursday.

The Homeland Security bill is not the only appropriations measure that ignores Obama’s pay raise request. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill the House passed last week, 407-12, would starve the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments of funds needed to grant some civilians a pay hike.

In a broader blow, a House appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday omitted the raise from the fiscal 2013 Financial Services appropriations bill, which traditionally includes governmentwide pay provisions.

Federal employee groups have blasted the moves.

“Federal workers deserve a modest cost of living adjustment after two years of sacrifice through frozen pay and increased retirement contributions,” said National Federation of Federal Employees National President William R. Dougan in a statement following the subcommittee’s failure to include a pay hike in the Financial Services spending bill. “No single group has sacrificed more toward restoring the nation’s fiscal health than the $75 billion in savings realized from federal employee compensation and benefit cuts. Asking for another year’s pay freeze . . . is simply unconscionable.”

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