Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, today spoke out on the House floor against H.R. 3835, which would freeze the pay of 2.1 million federal employees for a third consecutive year. Federal workers have contributed over $60 billion to deficit reduction through a two-year pay freeze â€“ the only constituency to sacrifice benefits.
â€œProponents of this bill will argue that federal employees are overpaid and underworked. They will cherry-pick data from a recent CBO report, and will rely on dubious analysis informed by right-wing ‘think tanks,'” Moran said. â€œIn reality, this bill is the product of an ideological extreme that was elected by espousing the mantra that our government is broken, and now is intent upon proving it. We ought to be proud of our federal government and oppose this bill.â€
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland described the GOP measure as a cleverly contrived election-year effort to trap opponents in an embarrassing vote.
Under the billâ€™s language, introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., a pay freeze that has been in place for federal workers since 2010 would continue beyond this December to the end of 2013, and it would also prevent members of Congress from getting a pay increase.
Duffy says that with private-sector workers facing a squeeze and millions of families looking for work, asking that tax dollars go to a pay raise for government employees â€œis just not right.â€
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., chairman of the subcommittee charged with oversight of the federal workforce, cited a study issued Monday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to answer assertions that federal employees are underpaid and that this policy would hurt the federal governmentâ€™s ability to recruit and retain highly skilled workers.
CBO found that total compensation for federal employees was 16% greater than for private sector employees
Hoyer called the measure “very clever,” and noted it would require members of Congress who want to end federal employees’ pay freeze to also raise their own salaries. â€œSo it will be perceived as, if youâ€™re voting against the bill, you’re voting to raise your own salary,â€ he said.
Moran said the GOP bill overlooks the contributions of America’s 2.1 million civil servants.
“This legislation is a cynical attempt to tap into misguided resentment fostered by the far right against the federal government and the 2.1 million men and women who serve our nation as civil servants,” Moran said. â€œOf the 2.1 million, let me point out to my colleagues, nearly two out of three civil servants work for the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Justice.”
â€œIn other words, two out of three federal employees work in jobs related to our national security, at home and abroad, or caring for our veterans. Every one of those employees seems to be the target of this bodyâ€™s misguided anger. And that is a shame,” Moran said.
â€œEmployees of the Joint POW/MIA Accountability Command work to find, return and identify the remains of the more than 83,000 uniformed service members killed or missing in action since World War II. These are federal employees who work every day to return our fallen heroes to their families. And this Congress wants to punish them for their effort.”
â€œEmployees at the Department of Homeland Security work to ensure nuclear materials are not smuggled into our country by those that wish to do us catastrophic harm. The Federal Bureau of Investigation works to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals that steal billions of dollars of intellectual property from our defense and civilian industrial base every year. This body claims to care about preventing nuclear terrorism and halting cyber crime, yet we intend to punish those that are charged with carrying out that mission.
â€œFinally, last year a constituent of mine was awarded a â€œSammieâ€ from the Partnership for Public Service for his work at the VA helping to address veterans struggling with the human toll of warfare. My constituent has devoted his nearly thirty year career building a national network of small, community-based centers where veterans traumatized by combat obtain counseling, job assistance, medical referrals and other services. Whereas the Partnership rewarded him last year, today the House is going to force him to forfeit his pay raise for a third consecutive year.