Senators urge Trump to reverse course, raise pay for federal employees

congressToday, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him in the strongest possible terms to back off a planned pay freeze for civilian federal employees in 2019.

“We write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse your decision to freeze pay rates for non-military federal workers in 2019. After months of indecisiveness and mixed signals, your decision further penalizes hard-working federal employees already straining under the impact of the unnecessary government shutdown that began on December 22nd,” the Senators told Trump. “Freezing pay for federal workers adds insult to injury for dedicated public servants already subject to political attacks and gamesmanship.”

While the White House’s FY19 budget proposed an across-the-board pay freeze for non-military federal workers, in August, the Senate approved appropriations legislation providing for a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal workers. However, the House’s failure to take up the bill allowed President Trump to sign an executive order on December 28 – day six of the partial government shutdown – unilaterally freezing pay for civilian federal employees.

In today’s letter, the Senators pushed Trump to change course, highlighting bipartisan support for the Senate-passed 1.9 percent pay raise. They also underscored how freezing pay hinders the federal government’s hiring competitiveness with the private sector, and called out the President for not doing more to prioritize human capital investments. The Senators also committed to working towards a pay adjustment for FY19 if President Trump fails to reverse his decision.

“There should be a particular sense of urgency in bolstering, rather than undermining, the competitiveness of the federal workforce considering that the share of federal employees eligible for retirement is expected to jump to 30 percent in five years,” the Senators wrote. “As a businessman, we would expect you to understand the importance of human capital investments in recruiting and retaining talented employees. We are deeply troubled that you would abdicate your responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the federal workforce—particularly while so many federal employees are actively working without pay during a shutdown triggered by your own equivocation.​”

The full text of today’s letter is available here.

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