Federal Employees Evade Pay Freeze Extension

Federal workers can breathe easy after a proposed amendment to extend pay freezes was defeated today in the Senate.

An amendment to the Senate transportation bill, proposed by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kans.), would have maintained current federal pay rates, including those for members of Congress, for another year to provide additional funding for energy projects and provide tax deductions, including those for college expenses.

“I believe this amendment is an important first step in growing our economy,” Roberts said while introducing the legislation last week.

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The House of Representatives voted in February to extend the pay freeze, which has lasted now for more than two years, through the end of the year. The last hike came in January 2010. The White House has proposed a 0.5 percent increase in pay for civilian federal employees, beginning next January. If the Senate had voted today for the extension, the freeze would have lasted until January 2014, Politico reported, but the measure was defeated, 47 to 51.

A group representing federal workers had protested against the proposed bill by sending a letter to senators on Monday. “The pay freeze extension in the Roberts amendment will be used to offset changes to energy policy and a long list of tax breaks that have nothing to do with federal employees,” the Federal-Postal Coalition wrote in a letter, according to a Washington Post report. “It is unacceptable to continually single out the federal workforce to fund programs or tax expenditures that should be broadly borne.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, a federal workers union, protested separately, according to a different report in the Post. “It is fundamentally wrong for federal employees to be required, again, to serve as the Automatic Teller Machine for programs that have nothing to do with deficit reduction,” wrote Beth Moten, a director for the union. “Enough is enough.”

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To contact the reporter on this story: Aabha Rathee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com