President Obama wants Congress to extend a pay freeze for federal employees until lawmakers pass a fiscal 2013 budget. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)
President Obama today called on Congress to extend federal employees’ pay freeze until lawmakers pass a fiscal 2013 budget.
In his letter to congressional leaders, which the White House released Tuesday evening, Obama said “Congress should maintain current pay rates during the period of the continuing resolution.” Obama said he still supports a 0.5 percent pay raise for employees in 2013, but said in his letter that the raise should only take effect after the continuing resolution expires.
AFGE said that will likely mean the pay freeze — which is now in its second year and is set to expire Jan. 1 — will extend into spring. Congress consistently fails to pass budgets on time, and most agencies operate on continuing resolutions for many months. And if the pay raise is enacted, it would not be retroactive to January, AFGE said.
In an interview with Federal Times, AFGE National President J. David Cox said that federal employees would get no raise at all next year if Congress fails to pass a fiscal 2013 budget and instead operates under a full-year continuing resolution.
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry held a phone briefing with federal unions Tuesday evening on the White House’s decision, Cox said. He said Berry gave unions no indication of why the administration has decided to extend the pay freeze.
Cox denounced Obama’s decision, and said he has flip-flopped on federal pay after supporting a 0.5 percent pay raise. He said Obama could have used his power under the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act to set next year’s pay raise himself if Congress did not act to extend the freeze or pass its own pay raise. Some Democrats in Congress had been counting on that scenario.
“The president’s decision to extend the two-year federal pay freeze until Congress passes a budget is absolutely unwarranted and unjustified,” Cox said in a statement. “The well is dry, Mr. President. Federal employees cannot afford another four months, or even another day of frozen wages.”
Federal employees’ pay scales were frozen beginning in 2011, which is expected to cost them $60 billion over 10 years.