Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) introduced a bill on Friday which would extend a pay freeze for federal workers, lawmakers and congressional aides for a further 12 months. If passed, Rep. Duffy’s proposal would mean that government workers’ pay would remain unchanged until Dec. 31, 2013.
The Obama administration recently suggested a 0.5-percent pay rise for such employees in 2013, a proposal some federal staff described as an insult. President Obama‘s Jan. 6 announcement will also likely apply to lawmakers.
“As American families and businesses have been forced to tighten their belts, Washington has refused to do the same,” Sen. Duffy wrote in a statement released on Monday. “Congress must be willing to make the same sacrifices we’re asking of others, that’s why I introduced this bill. We must act now to extend the pay freeze on federal workers and on members’ salaries until Washington finally gets its finances under control,” the statement continued.
Sen. Duffy’s bill is a direct rebuff to President Obama‘s planned modest pay hike, due to come into effect a few weeks following the presidential election. Although extending the current pay freeze for a further 12 months will undoubtedly prove unpopular with government workers, the proposal also aims to highlight that Mr. Obama is unwilling to take tough decisions to tackle the out-of-control federal deficit.
In late November, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) proposed to extend the wage freeze for a further three years in order to help cover the cost of extending the payroll tax cut. In early December, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) made a similar proposal, although he suggested to delay a pay rise by another one or two years. The Obama administration, however, would prefer to pay for the payroll tax cut extension by introducing a 3.25-percent surtax on earnings in excess of $1 million.
National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley agrees with President Obama and described Sen. Duffy’s bill as unjust. “While many in Congress are bending over backwards to protect billionaires and millionaires, they continue to attack hard-working, dedicated frontline employees who guard our borders, protect our air and water, safeguard our food and drug supplies, keep watch over our retirement, assist our veterans, and so much more,” she said.
Although Sen. Duffy’s bill is likely to clear the Republican-controlled House, it is unlikely to obtain the 60 votes required in order to avoid a filibuster in the Senate.
The pay freeze agreed in 2010 allows for federal pay rises provided these are connected to step increases or promotions.