Trump moves to cap pay raise for civilian government workers at 1 percent

Trump moves to cap pay raise for civilian government workers at 1 percent
© United Press International

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE on Monday said federal civilian worker pay increases would be capped at 1 percent next year, sparking criticism from groups representing government employees.

The president argued in a statement that the move was necessary to "put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course."

"This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce," Trump said. "[O]ur pay system must reform to align with mission-critical recruitment and retention goals, and to reward employees whose performance provides value for the American people."

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Congress in the past has effectively overturned similar orders by passing appropriations bills, later signed into law, that provide different pay schedules for federal workers.

Monday's announcement from Trump comes just weeks after he signed an executive order in late December raising the base pay of all federal civilian workers by 2.6 percent. That pay raise took effect in January.

The lower cap drew outrage from some employee unions.

The president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association slammed Trump's announcement, urging Congress to reject what he called a "contemptible" decision.

"At a time when the federal government faces ominous recruitment and retention challenges, the president’s [fiscal year 2021] budget continues to shortchange and renege on previous commitments to federal employees and retirees," Ken Thomas said in a statement. "These contemptible recommendations do nothing more than undermine the strength of our resilient civil service, and I urge Congress to reject it outright."

In August 2018, Trump initiated an effort to freeze federal civilian worker pay rates. He later implemented the freeze by executive order, but that move was later nullified by Congress in a spending deal.