Democratic members of the House representing districts in and around Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership Sept. 5, urging them to counteract the president’s intent to freeze federal pay for 2019.

Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer of Virginia; Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes John Delaney, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin of Maryland; and Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C. called for an end to the “vilification” and “ongoing assault” on federal employees.

“It is beyond cynical that the president would cite serious economic and fiscal concerns to justify his decision to cancel a pay adjustment for middle class workers while he tweets constantly about economic gains and touts a tax bill that exploded the deficit by $1.5 trillion,” the congressmen wrote.

According to Donald Trump’s letter announcing his intent to freeze federal pay, the move would go toward reducing federal spending and moving employee compensation more in line with a performance-based system.

But critics say it is yet another attack in a series of Trump administration actions against the federal workforce.

“The Trump administration has advocated repeatedly for draconian cuts to federal employee pay and compensation. The president has targeted the ability of federal employees to resolve workplace disputes, challenge unfair treatment and collectively bargain the terms of their employment. Now he wants to balance the budget on the backs of federal workers in order to obscure his fiscal mismanagement,” the congressmen wrote.

“Federal employees have endured these attacks while making sacrifices of their own. Over the last six years, they have contributed $200 billion to deficit reduction, undergone federal pay and hiring freezes, lost family income to sequestration-related furloughs and increased their pension contributions. We cannot recruit and retain the talent we need to support a 21st century federal workforce if this assault on public servants continues.”

Currently, the Senate version of the general government appropriations bill includes a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal employees, which would counteract the intended freeze, while the House version of the bill makes no mention of federal pay either way.

The letter urged congressional leadership to make sure that the Senate version’s pay increase makes it into the conferenced version of the appropriations bill.

“The men and women of the federal workforce are the same hardworking Americans we honored on Labor Day in communities across the country,” the congressmen wrote.

“We urge you to recognize their dedicated service to our nation with a minimum pay adjustment of 1.9 percent, as already endorsed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the Senate.”