House Votes to Extend Obama’s Pay Freeze for Federal Employees

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to freeze their own pay and the salaries of congressional staffers and civilian federal employees.

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The Republican-led House passed the measure on a vote of 309 to 117, with GOP supporters achieving the two-thirds majority needed to approve the bill under a suspension of normal procedural roles.

Republicans have long targeted government compensation as an example of excessive federal spending, but it was President Barack Obama who ordered a two-year federal pay freeze in 2010, a move that is expected to save taxpayers $60 billion over the next decade.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Sean Duff (R-Wis.), would extend the current two-year freeze on federal cost-of-living raises for an additional year, starting next January. In four out of the last six years, lawmakers have chosen not to raise congressional pay.

Before voting on the bill, Republicans cited a Congressional Budget Office report that showed federal employees to earn about 2 percent more, on average, than private sector employees in a comparable profession. When factoring in pension and health benefits, the CBO said federal employees earn about 16 percent more than private-sector counterparts.

But some Democrats are saying the extension goes too far. “This bill appears to be a disingenuous and disrespectful attack against federal workers” who have already sacrificed to help pay down the federal deficit, said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as he criticized GOP leaders for pushing for a quick vote on the bill without an opportunity to propose amendments.

The Democrat-led Senate still needs to approve the bill for it to become law.

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