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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Congressional Pay Freeze and Fiscal Responsibility Act

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2013-01-01

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    VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 6726, a bill that aims to claw back the .5% COLA promised to federal employees when the Continuing Resolution expires in March of this year. While I do not oppose the provision of the bill that freezes the pay for Members of Congress, I cannot support a measure that asks federal employees who have already disproportionately sacrificed so much for deficit reduction to sacrifice even more.

    This bill is yet another assault on the middle-class Americans who work to ensure that the food we eat and the water we drink are safe. These dedicated public servants protect our airports, care for our injured veterans and guard our borders. And yet, as this bill proves, their service and sacrifices are not valued by many in Congress who, when they look at federal employees can only see their pensions and pay and benefits as a source they can turn to anytime they need extra cash.

    Federal workers have contributed $60 billion as part of a two-year pay freeze; they contributed $15 billion more as part of the Payroll Tax Extension; and the Continuing Resolution the government is currently operating under asked them to forgo, until March, the .5% COLA they were promised this year. If this bill passes, the two year pay freeze Federal employees are currently laboring under will be extended for another year. Enough is enough! Members of Congress can afford to go without a pay raise, but Federal employees should not be treated as if they were the federal government's piggy-bank.

    I ask my colleagues to join me in opposing this bill so that we stop wasting our time in the dying hours of this Congress and instead focus our attention on the important business of moving the bipartisan package that the Senate passed yesterday to address the Fiscal Cliff.

    Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, with regard to H.R. 6726, this is a bill to deny all federal civilian employees a 0.5% pay increase after they have endured two consecutive years of a mandatory pay freeze. This bill unfairly punishes federal employees who have already sacrificed significantly during difficult economic times. By denying federal employees even a modest salary adjustment this Republican bill strangles the federal workforce, making federal service an ever less attractive career option for America's best and brightest.

    This bill also denies a modest cost of living increase to Members of Congress. If House Republicans want to deny a pay increase for Members of Congress then they should have put forward a clean bill that does not punish the federal civilian workforce.

    Last night the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan amendment to H.R. 8 that prevents a tax increase for 98% of American taxpayers. In Section 902 of that legislation is language denying a cost of living increase to Members of Congress in 2013. If my Republican colleagues really want to deny Congress a pay increase that has a chance of becoming law then I urge them to vote for the Senate's bipartisan agreement that raises taxes on millionaires and billionaires and cuts taxes for middle class families.

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