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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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