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How will sequester affect congressional staff?

Ron DeSantis

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla) introduced a bill to overturn an Executive Order granting a federal pay raise.

To a story about a bill that would kill a federal pay raise, a reader asked: I wonder if all of the congressional office staff are continuously awarded "merit" pay raises since they aren't getting [cost-of-living allowances]. Someone review how much their office staff pay is compared to the average American. Are they going to sequester 8 percent of their office budgets?

Matthew Weigelt responds: First, congressional staff members do not receive merit pay raises. In addition, they are going through sequestration too. Their office budgets may be hit by as much as 10 percent.

Do congressional staff members make more than private-sector workers based in Washington? It all depends on your job on the Hill. The Sunlight Foundation has some good data on 2009 salary numbers. A congressional chief of staff in the House of Representatives makes roughly $136,920 while a company chief executive makes $189,790. A legislative director earns $85,912 while a general manager at a company earns $128,300. Who makes more varies from there down to the lowest rung of the House member's office staff.

You can read the Sunlight Foundation's full report here.

Commenting on the same article, another reader suggested some civil disobedience: I think every civil servant across the country should call in sick on the exact same day and then Congress will see what a true government shutdown is all about. It would spur contractors not being able to go to work, federal buildings being closed, no border security, no food inspectors, no air transportation, etc. Then maybe they will put a little more stock in what we really contribute to this country.

Matthew Weigelt responds: That's an interesting take, although I can't advocate every fed calling in sick. Some advice though, if you do it: Make sure your sick day proves your job cannot be done without you there.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Sat, Feb 23, 2013

I like the idea of a hiring freeze (not a pay freeze) to help solve the budget problem. I've heard that if we permit a 10% reduction in federal employment through attrition - just attrition - we don't even need a furlough. True?

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 Kevin WV

I wholeheartedly agree with Robert. These idiots have got us into this mess and seem incapable of even talking to each other. As Janic mentioned 10% cut will hurt a GS-6 more than me on a higher payscale. Maybe we need to vote every incumbent out for the next several elections campaigns? Maybe they would take a hint that "the people" are very dissatisfied.

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 Barb

Congresisonal staff should be on furlough BEFORE the rest of the workforce and NO PAY! We are all accountable for our actions, so should they!!! Let them experience the consequences of their decisions or lack of.. They are lame ducks!

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 Janice Michigan

So a 10% cut wouldn't even bother these folks! They probably spend a lot more than that on lunch and entertainment. Maybe the Congress & Representatives should try taking a fair cut that they TOO would feel! 10% doesn't even begin to touch what they make - being a lower graded employee (GS-6) a 10% cut will hurt A LOT!! Furlough days will hurt A LOT!!

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 Robert Dietrichq Mass

The President, all Congress persons and Senators should not be paid one dime until there is an agreement on debt reduction. Moreover, all new taxes should be earmarked to debt reduction ONLY!

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