Bill with pay freeze extension passes House

The House passed legislation May 31 by a wide margin that would essentially freeze pay for a number of federal employees for the third year in a row.

The $71.7 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 5854) passed 402 to 12.

The bill would provide funding for the military with the infrastructure needed to house, train, and equip military personnel. It would provide for the quality of life of the troops and their families, while maintaining the military base structure. It also funds veterans’ benefits and veteran services benefits.

“This bill recognizes the service of our nation’s troops and veterans by providing for the programs, services, and benefits that they need and have earned,” Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, said in a statement after the bill’s passage.

Culberson added that the legislation helps to control spending to hold the line on the nation’s deficits and debt.

However, the pay provisions in the bill haven’t set well with the White House. While the bill does not specifically refer to the administration's two-year pay freeze, it specifies reductions to funds available for salaries that will have the effective of extending that freeze for VA and civilian Defense Department employees, according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.

On May 30, the Obama administration threatened a possible veto of the bill, in part because of the civilian pay freeze. Administration officials encouraged Congress to support their proposed 0.5 percent pay raise. In a statement on the bill, they wrote a permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable.

A pay freeze has been in effect since 2011.

Federal employee advocates aren’t pleased either with the House’s approach to control spending.

“It is fundamentally wrong for federal employees to be required, yet again, to serve as the automated teller machine for the nation. Enough is enough,” the American Federation for Government Employees’s legislative and political director Beth Moten wrote in a letter May 31.

The appropriations bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 Guillermo Mid-America

I never had civics in high school, so even though I work for "Uncle" there are some things I don't understand. If we are so bad off that we have to freeze government employees pay, why are we still giving $$$ away in the form of foreign aid? Where does that $$$ come from? Are we borrowing $$$ from China to give to Pakistan? Why are we even giving $$$ to nations that hate us??? I'm confused!

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 CO Springs

My job series as a DoD civilian is not unionized. Most DoD high tech positions are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), so any overtime worked is only compensated at the regular hourly rate, not in cash, but only as compensatory time off. If we're so busy we work overtime, when will we ever have time to use compensatory time off? Don't expect our Government to ever make a PROFIT like a CORPORATION when profit is not the Govt's objective. Instead of earning incentives for saving Gov't funds, we lose our funding in the following fiscal year. "Hey - you couldn't spend what we gave you this year, so you must not really need that much next year". The goal of the Govt is to spend every dime and ask for even more in unfunded requests. UFRs "steal" funding from other programs/projects for that fiscal year, if the funded program/project is not expending money "fast enough". This philosophy and way of doing business is WRONG and just plain stupid. It fits right in with most politicians' agendas: spend, spend, spend, then expect the Gov't employees to decrease the National Debt by giving up their take home pay and receiving fewer benefits while the cost of living keeps going up and up every year. I am now descending into lower-middle class thanks to the belief that DoD civilians are paid "too much". Why would any college graduate want to enter federal service under these conditions? People are baling out; the Govt is paying senior employees to leave the service. The corporate knowledge, program/project history, and valuable skills are going out the door. The pendulum will swing the other way when the Govt and Military cannot do what's required: producing more with fewer people of lower skill levels, with fewer assets, and less funding year after year.

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 Erich Darr

The pay freeze policies of Congress and the Administration are not going to attract or retain a sufficient number of capable young employees. You can get contractors to provide these services at greater cost, but the Civil Service will continue to bleed institutional knowledge. In the long term you need integral resources that understand how to operate the DoD.

Mon, Jun 4, 2012

There is no reason for this to contunie congressmen and weman still get the free luches at the cost of tax payers. They get all kinds of gifts that they take from the lobbiest who represent the companys that the contractors work for. I just don't understand why this is aloud to happen. Well nothing will ever change there because of the way bussiness is being conducted there every day.

Mon, Jun 4, 2012

Well, it isn't as if those worthless unionized federal workers do anything important for America. Like making a PROFIT for CORPORATIONS.

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