WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Friday to extend a pay freeze for federal workers, already in effect for more than two years, for another nine months.
Republicans, who largely backed the measure, said it would save $11 billion in the long run and that economically secure public servants could go a little longer without a raise.
Most Democrats, and the White House, criticized the bill as an example of anti-government bias and said Republicans, instead of debating a bill that has little chance of advancing in the Democratic-controlled Senate, should be concentrating on avoiding the pending automatic cuts to federal programs that could have a painful effect on the economy.
The House measure, approved on a 261-154 vote, blocks an executive order issued by President Barack Obama last December that would give the nation’s 2 million civilian federal workers a 0.5 percent cost-of-living raise from March 27, when the current federal spending agreement expires, through the end of the year.
The White House has indicated it will also include a 1 percent federal pay increase in its 2014 budget proposal.
The White House, in a statement, opposed the House bill, saying federal workers have already done more than their part in bringing down the deficit and that the legislation was added burden on those who “ assure the safety of this country’s food and airways, defend the homeland, provide health care to the nation’s veterans, search for cures to devastating diseases and provide vital support to our troops at home and abroad.”
Obama in 2010 initiated a two-year freeze on federal COLAs as part of an effort to reduce the deficit. Federal worker unions and others opposing the bill say that, with the freeze and higher pension contributions required of new workers, federal employees are already helping save $103 billion over a 10-year period.
But the bill’s sponsor, freshman Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said his “modest” bill “simply recognizes our current fiscal reality and the fact that government salaries must bear some relationship to the private sector salaries that support them.” His bill, estimated at saving $11 billion over 10 years, would also extend the freeze on congressional member pay, now running through September, until the end of the year.
The freeze only applies to cost-of-living adjustments, and not merit and longevity raises. The House Oversight and Government Reform.MORE IN Wire News
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