House votes to extend federal pay freeze

TheHousevotedTuesdayeveningtoblockascheduledincreaseforcivilianfederalemployeesthisspring,aswellaspreventaraiseformembersofCongressfromgoingintoeffect.
ThefiscalcliffagreementpassedbytheSenateearlyTuesdayincludesaprovisionthatwouldpreventthecongressionalpayhike.Butitdidnotaddresstheissueofafreezeforcivilianfederalemployees.TheHousetookupthesalaryfreezemeasurebeforeanexpectedvoteTuesdayontheoverallagreement.
HouseOversightandGovernmentReformCommitteeChairmanDarrellIssa,R-Calif.,saidonthefloorTuesdaythatfederalemployeesare"hard-working,"but"it'snothowhardtheywork,it'swhatcantheAmericanpeopleafford."Heurgedpassageofanextensionofthefreeze.
Rep.GerryConnolly,D-Va.,whositsontheOversightandGovernmentReformpanel,decriedthe"continuedwhackingawayatpayandbenefits,"andsaidwithmeasuressuchastheextendedfreeze,employeeswerebeingtreated"asapunchingbag."
Lastweek,Obamaissuedanexecutiveorderthatwouldliftthefreezeoncivilianworkersandimplementa0.5percentacross-the-boardincreasestartingthefirstpayperiodafterMarch27.Intheabsenceofcongressionalaction,thatraisewouldgointoeffect.ButiftheHouseandSenateapproveameasureextendingthefreeze,andPresidentObamasignsit,thefreezewouldremainineffectthroughout2013.
"Federalemployees,whofacethesameeconomicpressuresofallmiddleclassfamilies,havebeenunderapayfreezeformorethantwoyears,"saidNationalTreasuryEmployeesUnionPresidentColleenM.Kelleyinastatement."Itistimeforthepayfreezetoend."
“Reducingthesalariesoffederalworkersthroughanextendedpayfreezeisacheappoliticalploy,”saidAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployeesPresidentJ.DavidCoxinastatement.“Notonlydoesitinflicttremendousdamageonthefamiliesofthesemodestlypaidworkers,morethanhalfofwhomareveterans,butitalsohitsthecommunitieswheretheseemployeeslive,sincetheywillcontinuetobeunabletoaffordanykindofeconomicactivitybeyondpayingforthebarenecessitiesofliving."
TheWhiteHouseissuedanorderinlateDecemberofficiallyextendingthecurrentpayfreezeuntilMarch27.
PresidentObamaandCongressagreedinthefalltomainainthefreezethatbeganinJanuary2011throughtheendofthecurrentcontinuingresolution.Obamarecommendeda0.5percentpayincreasethisyearforfedswhenCongresspassesabudget.


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