U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the fiscal cliff negotiations in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House December 31, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama made waves last Friday when -- amid a fierce fiscal cliff debate -- he signed an executive order ending the pay freeze on certain federal workers. Beneficiaries to see a pay boost included Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress.
Though the raises were relatively modest (at least for a government that runs trillion-dollar deficits)-- about $900/year for members of Congress and $6,000/year for Biden-- the Weekly Standard writes that the executive order would cost the taxpayer roughly $11 billion over the next ten years.
On Tuesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation blocking the pay raise.
"Unbelievably, in the middle of talks this week on tax rates and sequestration revision, in the midst of high deficits and a growing national debt, the president has proposed pay increases for members of Congress," Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) summarized. "I have to say that nobody in this town saw this coming, and very few think it is warranted."
The measure received immense bipartisan support, passing 287-129, with 55 Democrats voting with Republicans against the president's proposal.
The Washington Post has more information:
The GOP-backed bill introduced late Monday would freeze the salaries of lawmakers and the nation’s 2 million federal employees for the remainder of fiscal 2013. Currently, federal worker salaries are frozen through the end of a short-term spending agreement that expires in March. As part of efforts to curtail the deficit, federal employees have not seen a cost of living increase in their paychecks in more than three years.
The pay bill is cosponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). [Emphasis added]
But Rep. Issa was quick to correct the impression that federal workers have been unfairly compensated. His office released a statement (via Twitchy):
“The President, the Senate Majority, and the House Minority have not been able to agree to even the most meager spending cuts,” Issa said in the statement. “Yet the President’s executive order gives all members of Congress a salary hike on top of the $174,000 a year we already earn.”
...In January 2012, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a study which found that total compensation for federal employees was 16% greater than comparable private sector employees.
“The President’s across the board pay increase for white collar workers is not necessary to retain talented employees and just wastes taxpayer money,” Issa continued. “Federal employees have continued to receive promotions and within-grade pay increases over the past few years of the supposed ‘pay freeze,’ and voluntary separations from the federal government are near all-time lows.” [Emphasis added]
The bill will go to the Senate next, but according to the Hill it may not be considered due to language in the already-passed "fiscal cliff" bill blocking the $900 congressional pay raise.