Trump issues order freezing pay rate for federal workers

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, following through on a pledge earlier this year to nix an across-the-board pay increase.

Trump had announced in August that he would cancel the 2.1 percent pay increase, which was slated to take effect in January.

The order also cancels the “locality pay increase,” which adjusts paychecks based on the region of the country where workers are posted.

The order does not, however, impact a 2.6 percent pay raise for the military for next year that was part of a defense spending bill Trump signed in August. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The announcement making the pay freeze official comes as hundreds of thousands of federal employees head into the new year furloughed or forced to work without pay as a result of a partial government shutdown that began last week.

The executive order affects most of the 2.1 million federal employees around the nation, about 1.7 million of which live in areas outside of the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Last year, the Trump administration approved a 1.4 percent increase in federal pay and a 2.4 percent increase in military pay. 

The Senate earlier this year included a 1.9 percent pay bump in its spending plans for 2019, but the House version of the bill did not include such an increase.

Lawmakers could include a pay raise for federal employees in legislation to reopen the government, but Democrats and Republicans are currently mired in debate over funds for Trump’s border wall.

“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote in a letter to congressional leaders in August when announcing plans for the pay freeze.

“In light of our Nation's fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” he added.

The August letter was met with bipartisan criticism.

“We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal employees and I will work with my House and Senate colleagues to keep the pay increase in our appropriations measures that we vote on in September,” Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (R-Va.) said at the time.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the nation's largest union representing federal employees, urged Congress to override the move and stick to the Senate's pay proposal. 

“President Trump’s plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.

“Federal employees have had their pay and benefits cut by over $200 billion since 2011, and they are earning nearly 5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade,” he added.