House votes for refreezing federal employee pay

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The House voted on Friday to freeze federal worker pay for the third year in a row, through legislation that attempts to override a Dec. 27 executive order from President Obama.

The House passed H.R. 273 with a 261-154 vote, which would nullify Obama's executive order giving federal workers a 0.5 percent pay increase on March 27. The legislation exempts people serving in the military, and also freezes the pay for members of Congress.

The freeze would apply to annual cost-of-living adjustments, and increases to pay through promotions, bonuses and step increases in a worker's existing pay grade. A Congressional Budget Office report says that keeping the pay freeze for 3 years may save the government a total of up to $60 billion over 10 years.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that the executive order would cost the government $11 billion over ten years and that "federal employee pay has gone up by $3,328 while private sector pay has gone up only $1,404" during the pay freeze of the past 2 years.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that workers' pay should keep up with inflation and that the legislation the House considers should deal with sequestration instead of targeting those that sequestration will effect.

The Office of Management and Budget on Feb 13 released a statement (.pdf) opposing the bill, saying a 0.5 percent pay raise would help keep the federal government competitive for attracting talent. It also says the raise called for by the executive order is a smaller pay increase than federal workers would receive when the current pay freeze ends with the March 27 expiration of the current continuing resolution.

The new legislation may face a similar fate as H.R. 6726, passed Jan. 1 by 287-129 vote, which also would block federal worker and congressional pay raises but has not been taken up by the Senate.

For more:
go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 273
- read the executive order

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