Erich Wagner | January 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers Unveil Bill to Override Reported Plan to Freeze Feds' Pay in 2019

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., one of the bill's sponsors, said feds have been treated as a national piggybank for too long. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., one of the bill's sponsors, said feds have been treated as a national piggybank for too long. Andrew Harnik/AP

Democrats in both the House and Senate announced Friday that they have reintroduced a bill that would override the White House’s reported plans to freeze civilian federal employee pay next year.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act (H.R. 4775 and S. 2295), which would provide a 3 percent raise for all federal workers in 2019.

Last month, a report released by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee revealed that President Trump will seek a governmentwide pay freeze in 2019. At the time, Connolly described the proposal as “dunderheaded” and “foolish.” Trump formalized a plan last month that provides federal workers a 1.9 percent pay increase for this year.

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Connolly and Schatz said in a statement that a 3 percent raise will help make up for austerity foisted upon civil servants in recent years.

“For too long Republicans in Congress have treated the federal workforce like a national piggy bank,” Connolly said. “They’ve endured three years of pay freezes, a government shutdown, sequestration cuts, furloughs, and a mindless across-the-board hiring freeze . . . The FAIR Act is a step towards recognizing their contributions and providing fair and just compensation.”

“Whether they manage fisheries for NOAA or keep our airports safe as a part of the TSA, federal workers in every part of this country and around the world protect and serve the American people,” Schatz said. “This legislation allows us to right the wrongs from furloughs, sequestration and pay freezes by giving these hardworking public servants the raise they deserve.”

Federal employee unions quickly endorsed the legislation.

“[The bill sponsors] recognize the invaluable contribution that these public-sector workers make each and every day to the benefit of everyone who calls this country home,” said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “And they understand that it is vital for the federal government to pay its employees fairly so we can recruit and retain the high-caliber workforce that the public expects and deserves.”

National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon applauded the measure, noting that the 3 percent raise would be in line with projections for private sector wage growth.

“Federal employees living and working in all 50 states are just like everyone else in the middle class, trying to pay their bills and save for retirement,” Reardon said. “A 3 percent bump in pay is a modest but meaningful way to help them do that.”