When President Donald Trump unilaterally canceled the pay raises for millions of federal employees, he not only declared war on America’s public servants, he also bet that their representatives in Congress won’t do a darn thing about it.

I’m here to say: not without a fight.

The Senate passed a pay raise on a bipartisan basis, because we recognize that our federal employees work hard and that their salaries must remain competitive if we are to attract and retain the best talent in the federal government.

Now with the stroke of a pen, President Trump is attempting to use a provision intended for cases of national emergency to ignore Congress’ will, claiming we can no longer afford it.

I believe Congress should take action to get our nation’s fiscal situation under control. For over a decade, I’ve worked to get my colleagues to tackle these issues in a bipartisan way.

But I also believe that issues of the debt and deficit are far too serious to be used as an excuse to persecute federal employees or any other group. I believe that Congress is responsible for determining what portion of the federal budget should go toward compensating federal employees for their hard work, and that Congress should act now to reverse this unfair and inappropriate attack on our federal workers.

Let’s be clear: The President’s decision is not motivated by a sudden onset of fiscal responsibility. The President and his party, which controls both houses of Congress, have had every chance over the last 18 months to get serious about tackling our fiscal challenges.

Instead, the President ballooned the deficit by trillions of dollars with a tax giveaway primarily benefitting big business and the wealthiest Americans. I can think of nothing more hypocritical or disingenuous than to turn around and throw hardworking federal employees under the bus on the pretext of fiscal responsibility.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest attempt by the Trump administration to scapegoat and undermine the work of our public servants.

It started with the hiring freezes that threw a wrench into the day-to-day operations of nearly every federal agency — with no apparent benefit to the taxpayers.

It continued with executive orders undermining workplace protections for federal workers and their ability to organize as part of a union. The targeting was compounded by the administration’s plan to cut retirement benefits for 2.6 million federal retirees and survivors.

And it culminated most recently with the pay raise cancellation — a slap in the face to our federal workforce.

This is the thanks our federal employees get for their service.

President Trump campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp.” But the great irony is that the most glaring instances of failure and corruption at the federal level in recent months have not come from career federal employees. They’ve come from the appointees installed by this administration.

Look no further than the EPA, where the American people saw some of the most blatant examples of waste and abuse from former chief Scott Pruitt.

We also saw that, with few exceptions, those at the EPA with the courage to stand up and say “this is not OK” were career federal employees. And for that, some were demoted and some were reassigned in retaliation — all because they had the courage to speak up and do what was right.

This is the thanks our federal employees get for their service.

Unfortunately, these issues don’t appear to be confined to the walls of one agency with one rogue administrator.

We’ve seen disturbing reports of Trump political appointees purging career employees at the State Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

These reports should concern all of us, Republican and Democrat alike, who believe in good, honest government, by and for the people.

So too should the president’s attacks on the public servants who serve in the intelligence community and federal law enforcement, which threaten not only the functioning of our government, but the rule of law itself.

The men and women of the FBI, the Department of Justice and the intelligence community deserve better.

All of our public servants deserve better than what we’ve seen from this administration.

My advice for this president, if he’s really serious about “draining the swap,” is to leave our federal employees alone and take a good long look in the mirror.

My advice to my colleagues in Congress is to show courage, to stand up for our federal employees and to work together to restore this pay raise that our public servants have earned.

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