Overturn the President’s $11,000,000,000 Federal Employee Pay Hike

Published: Jan 16, 2013

WASHINGTON-Twenty-eight freshman and veteran lawmakers, led by Oversight Committee freshman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), today announced the introduction of H.R. 273, a bill to overturn President Obama’s December 27th executive order giving federal employees an across the board pay hike. The President’s executive order will cost taxpayers $11 billion in new spending over the next ten years. The bill will be considered on the House floor next week.

“The President has once again demonstrated his penchant for unrestrained spending by giving federal employees an across the board pay hike and sticking the rest of us with the $11 billion bill,” said Rep. DeSantis. “At a time when the average federal worker compensation is nearly double the median U.S. household income, and attrition from the federal workforce is already at an all-time low, we simply cannot afford this unnecessary and unilateral action by the President. This bill rescinds the President’s action and makes clear that the federal workforce – including cabinet secretaries, Members of Congress, and other salaried employees – will not receive an across-the-board pay increase this year.”

According to data from the Office of Personnel Management and the White House Office of Management and Budget, the average total compensation for federal employees exceeds $100,000. A 2012 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that total compensation for federal employees was already 16% greater than comparable private sector employees.

“The President’s pay hike even increases the salary for federal employees who receive poor performance reviews from their own supervisors,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), an original cosponsor of the legislation and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “As President Obama continues to say one thing and do another on deficit spending, it is appropriate for Congress to challenge his unilateral decision to spend $11 billion on non-merit based pay raises for federal workers.  Between the President’s unilateral spending decisions and his nearly four year failure to have his political allies in the Senate approve any budget, his audacity to try to lecture anyone about responsible spending practices amounts to saying one thing and doing the opposite.”

Despite President Obama’s announcement of a so-called ‘pay freeze’ for federal workers in December 2010, federal employees have continued to receive automatic pay increases over the past two years based on accrued seniority.  His lifting of the ‘pay freeze’ means they will receive both non-merit pay increases based on seniority as well as an additional across the board pay increase of .5 percent.

The President’s latest $11 billion expenditure is also inconsistent with the guidance offered by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission that recommended a three-year federal pay freeze.  What Simpson-Bowles recommended:

Impose a three-year pay freeze on federal workers and Defense Department civiliansOut of duty and patriotism, hardworking federal employees provide a great service to this country.  But in a time of budget shortfalls, all levels of government must trim back.  In the recent recession, millions of private sector and state and municipal employees had their wages frozen or cut back, and millions more lost their jobs altogether.  In contrast, federal workers’ wages increase annually due to automatic formulas in law, providing them with cost-of-living-adjustments totaling more than five percent in the last two years.  This proposal would institute a three year government-wide freeze on federal pay at every government agency, including the Department of Defense civilian workforce.  This proposal will save $20.4 billion in 2015. (Page 26)

The President’s executive order would have also facilitated a pay increase for Members of Congress. The House and Senate, however, voted down the congressional pay increase earlier this year. 

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