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Will the Senate save feds from a pay freeze extension?

The House has passed a bill that would extend the federal pay freeze and require government employees to pay more toward their pensions, but feds can relax: The bill looks to be unlikely to survive in the Senate.

Passed Dec. 13, the House measure would also extend a one-year break in the payroll tax that expires late December. The bill would have workers paying 6.2 percent in wages starting Jan. 1, up from this year’s 4.2 percent.

However, Senate Democrats have vowed to reject the bill, partly because they oppose legislation that would speed up the controversial U.S.-Canada oil pipeline that the Obama administration wants to postpone.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he’s not overly concerned about the bill and stressed there is more important work to be done. "It was dead before it got to the Senate," he said after the House passed the bill earlier this week. "The Senate will not pass it. The sooner we demonstrate that, the sooner we can begin serious discussions on how to keep taxes from going up on middle-class Americans."

On the other side of the floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to insist that the Senate should foremost focus on keeping the government running after its funds expire Dec. 16.

“First things first: Let’s keep the government from shutting down,” he said, according to reports in the Washington Post. “If the majority leader is correct that the House bill won’t pass the Senate, why won’t he talk to the speaker and work out something that can pass on a bipartisan basis?”

The threat of a government shutdown has rung hollow lately, with many federal employees suffering from shutdown fatigue. As Time magazine’s Jay Newton-Small put it, the Dec. 16 deadline has not received much attention “because a) we’re all tired of writing the same fishbowl, government shutdown story, and b) congressional negotiators for once in their lives are on track to sign off on a bipartisan omnibus that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, thus avoiding more of these embarrassing showdowns.”

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Dec 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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Reader comments

Sat, Dec 17, 2011

The politicians always claim they need to freeze our pay to "save" money. How can they possibly claim to not have the money to properly compensate their own workforce when they seem to have billions to give to foreign governments that hate us and are probably using the money to purchase weapons with which to kill our troops? They also seem to have no problem finding money to pay for their high-speed train boondoggle, and loan guarantees for companies owned by their political cronies. No, I do not for one minute believe they don't have the funds with which to properly compensate the federal workers. We just don't matter to the politicians.

Fri, Dec 16, 2011

I am a fed w/ 3 years. This freeze is hurting my immediate ability to pay for things; it affects my percentage & matching percentage that goes into my TSP; it also hurts my end pay every single year as each year when a percentage is given it is on the previous years salary; it also hurts my locality pay. I work very hard & plan to work for the gov until I retire, but I don't think they should keep punishing us. This is such a miniscule amount that they are saving. It is very frustrating when they tie the pay freeze to something like keeping the gov open. It is very frustrating that my rent goes up every year along w/ all other expenses. This makes me put less money into the economy.

Fri, Dec 16, 2011

The pay freeze is another form of punishment. If you are the unfortunate person who just may be at the top of the pay scale for your grade this will mean years before there is any increase in pay. Insurance goes up, food, heating and cost of living period, salary falling further behind. How can you contribute more to the economy through purchases when the pay check can't be stretched any further. Someone said it's not a picnic, that is a fact! The agency I work for has caps on overtime, and I will tell you I worked almost equal to entire month over and there was not time and half pay. This means being home cooking dinner and never getting to finish or eat it, to return to the office over and over after hours. This pay freeze will hurt and continue to hurt the pockets of people who were counting on that increase.

Thu, Dec 15, 2011

I just hope this 2% tax relief doesn't mean our SS benefits will decrease by that amount. We used to pay 6.2% and the govt matched the 6.2%...they still put in the 6.2% and we only put 4.2%...it seems like this means we are selling ourselves short in the long run. They have even talked about going from 4.2% to 3.1%...slowly dwindling our share away - I would rather keep putting the 6.2% in and have it in retirement later.

Thu, Dec 15, 2011

It is easy for someone who doesn't work for the Feds to say Feds are overpaid. Fed employees are taxpayers. Sure there are some slackers just like in the private sector. That is a given. Get a Fed job and you will find out what the majority of Feds go through to get the job done on the scarce resources of most agencies. I have worked for both sides and working for government is no picnic. You are happy if you have a decent looking office (the ones I worked in looked more like storage closets), supplies (always borrowing from others) and clean bathrooms (we cleaned and took out trash).

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