White House threatens to strike down bill to extend pay freeze

Editor's note: This story was modified after its publication to clarify information regarding the scope of the pay freeze extension.

An appropriations bill to fund military construction and veterans' programs calls for extending the current federal pay freeze for another year, but the White House is having none of that.

In a May 30 statement commenting on administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget objected to the spending bill for military construction and the Veterans Affairs Department, saying it required “harmful cuts” to areas such as education, job training and healthcare.

However, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who sponsored the act, said in a written statement that the bill slashes federal spending “without compromising the high-quality services provided to our troops, their families, and our veterans.”

H.R. 5854 would also effectively extend the federal pay freeze through fiscal year 2013 for civilian Defense and Veterans Affairs department employees, according to OMB's statement.

“If the president were presented with H.R. 5854, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill,” OMB said in its statement.

The bill also contains a policy rider that would ban the use of project labor agreements on federal construction projects. OMB opposed that provision, saying PLAs can aid agencies realize projects more efficiency and help ensure compliance with laws on workplace safety and health, equal employment opportunity, and labor and employment standards. 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 No Way

I've got to say, this feels like the Carter years all over again. Everyone afraid and feeling loss of hope for the country. And when he made the famous "national malaise" speech, it felt like America's time had past. Then we got a leader who reminded us of who we were and what we are capable of. Such a leader will come along again someday and snap us out of this. Be patient.

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 vince

If you are giving the military a pay raise you need to give the civilian employees in the DOD a pay raise also. We do the same work. Actually the military gets paid EXTRA anyway for deployement in the way of 1. Family separation pay 2. Hasardous duty pay 3. imminent danger pay 4. other extra allowances not payed during "peace" time.

Mon, Jun 4, 2012

I read the comment that states if you are at GS-whatever step 10 the pay freeze hurts, honestly I can say that I lost a pay grade in order to maintain employment, making me a step 10. At that point I considered that I would get a cost of living so all would be fine. Now down the road, years later I am making the same, even though everything around me is higher. Continued pay freezes will hurt some federal employees, some to the point that they are working but struggling to make ends meet. High unemployment has driven adult children home with families and no means to support them, even if you are a federal employee you are still touched by other economic problems. I dread to think what the world has come to and my grand children's lives will be like! Totally scary in some parts of our country!

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 David home

Cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicade are NOT the answer. Ensuring only those who should be receiving these ENTITLEMENTS (I worked for over 35 years for mine) are not something I can afford to loose. There are however, many who do not belong on the aforementioned roles and should be removed. If it is a choice between freezing Federal pay -v- Entitlements, freezing your pay will not leave you without. I will leave me greatly needing help. As a 100% disabled Vet, I fought, and earned all that I receive. But if you will hang in there for another year or two, your pay will be back on course, and I pray I will be in heaven.

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 No Way

@American Patriot - perfectly stated. For the anonomyous commenter before him/her, yes pay freezes do hurt those feds that are maxed out at step 10. I am one of them and my gros paay is EXACTLY the same it was in January 2010. Zero change. MOST feds however are NOT maxed out and therefore are getting automatic pay increases called "steps". Please stop belly aching. All we are doing is pissing off the rest of America making it even harder for them to understand we work for them. Be thankful for your gov't job and stop making it seem like you're being punished. The gov't we work for (elected officials) got us here, but we still have civil service protections the private sector does not have. Be humble, thankful, work hard for America, and shut up! We're proud civil servants working for the best country in the world!!

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above