House considers measure to extend federal pay freeze another year

Congressional lawmakers and federal employees could see their salaries frozen for yet another year if the House passes legislation approving the measure Wednesday.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyGOP rep: Trump ‘doesn’t have any ideas’ Lawmakers launch Central America Caucus in meeting with Guatemalan leader Black Dem accuses GOP rep of racism in abortion remarks MORE (R-Wis.), would extend the non-military federal employee pay freeze into its third year, a move projected to save taxpayers $26.2 billion.

“As American families and businesses have been forced to tighten their belts, Washington has refused to do the same,” wrote Duffy in a statement Monday. “Congress must be willing to make the same sacrifices we’re asking of others.”

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“We must act now to extend the pay freeze on federal workers and on members’ salaries until Washington finally gets its finances under control,” he added.

The bill proposes to extend the federal employee pay freeze until Dec. 31, 2013. First introduced last Friday, the proposed legislation has only garnered four co-sponsors to date: GOP Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashRepublicans who vow to never back Trump Trump Capitol Hill surrogate says Cruz should drop out Lawmakers react to Villanova's buzzer-beater NCAA win MORE (R-Mich.), Michael FitzpatrickMichael G. FitzpatrickPelosi: Mexico should not worry about Trump House lawmakers ask for answers on cooked ISIS intel allegations The Republicans who nearly derailed the THUD bill MORE (R-Pa.), Pete Olson (R-Texas) and Dennis Ross (R-Fla.).

President Obama has proposed to end the two-year pay freeze next December and raise federal salaries 0.5 percent under his new budget, a move Duffy views as inappropriate given the ongoing state of the economy.

“While private sector workers face the squeeze and millions of families continue searching for work, the idea of asking that their hard earned tax dollars go to fund a pay raise for government employees is just not right,” he wrote.

Ross echoed the sentiment Wednesday.

“The President’s pay hike proposal is fiscally irresponsible, especially as he is proposing to cut defense budgets,” wrote the chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy in a statement Wednesday.

Ross publicly supported the bill Wednesday prior to the evening House vote, challenging concerns that the legislation would hurt the federal government’s ability to recruit and retain highly skilled workers.

“An across the board pay increase for federal workers is unwarranted, and the claim that federal employees are underpaid is a demonstrable myth,” he wrote.

Ross also cited a study released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that found that federal employees were, on average, better compensated than their private-sector counterparts.

The federal government employs about 2.3 million civilian workers, or 1.7 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the CBO. In fiscal year 2011, the government spent an estimated $200 billion to compensate federal civilian employees.

The CBO study found that total compensation for federal employees was 16 percent greater than for private-sector employees, noted Ross.

However, the CBO study did confirm that highly-skilled employees — those with a professional degree or Ph.D. — were the only federal employees compensated less than those with the same credentials in the private sector.

“The compensation gap for highly educated employees may be a byproduct of the rigid federal pay system,” countered Ross. “CBO noted that federal pay systems 'make it harder for managers to reward the highest performers or limit compensation for the lower performers.' ”

It is not the first time the House has considered, and later approved, an extension of the federal pay freeze. The first was in the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution, and the second in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act in December, Ross added.

On Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) panned the GOP bill, saying it would "disadvantage” federal workers.