Congressional Pay Freeze and Fiscal Responsibility Actby Former Representative Frank R. Wolf
Posted on 2013-01-01
WOLF. Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress do not deserve a pay
raise. I won't accept one. In fact, all of us should have our pay
docked, as should the president. But that's not what this vote is
about. It's time for members of both parties to stop attacking our
Nation's hardworking civil servants.
Unlike other sectors of our society, since the beginning of 2011, federal employees, as a result of reduced compensation and benefits, have already made significant contributions to efforts to reduce our Nation's deficit. I know that every federal employee continually is willing to contribute to efforts that address our Nation's unfunded spending obligations and liabilities. However, they also rightly expect that others will join them in this effort.
The legislation before us could have a significant impact on our ability to recruit and retain qualified employees.
Has anyone fully considered the impact that a three-year pay freeze will have on the CIA, the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Counter Terrorism Center? Or the impact on the FBI, which has, since 9/11, disrupted scores of terrorist plots against our country? Or the impact on our military, which is supported by federal employees every day on military bases across the Nation? [[Page H7527]] Or the impact on VA hospitals across the country, which are treating military veterans from World War II to today? Or the impact on the Border Patrol? Or the impact on NASA, its astronauts, engineers and scientists, especially on the nine-year anniversary of the tragic loss of the Columbia crew and a week after the 45th anniversary of the loss of the Apollo 1 crew? Or the impact on NIH, and other federal researchers, scientists and doctors? Clearly, federal employees don't just sit behind desks. They are members of our communities who are out in the field, often in harm's way, protecting our Nation. Within the last year, residents in northern Virginia mourned the loss of two federal employees who died in the line of duty--U.S. Park Police Sergeant Michael Andrew Boehm of Burke, and National Park Service Ranger Margaret Anderson, who previously worshipped in Lovettsville.
Their sacrifices remind us that many federal employees are often put in dangerous situations. Since 1992, nearly 3,000 federal employees have paid the ultimate price while serving their country, according to the Office of Personnel Management. The first American killed in Afghanistan, Mike Spann, was a CIA agent and a constituent of mine from Manassas Park. I attended his funeral. Over 100,000 CIA, FBI, DEA agents, and State Department employees have served side-by-side with our military to carry out the War on Terror in locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years ago, I attended funerals for some of the seven CIA agents who were killed by a suicide bomber at Forward Operating Base Chapman near Khost on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Our Nation mourns the loss of the four Americans who died during the attack on the U.S. consulate and annex in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens, U.S. Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy Seals, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
And we should not forget that the CIA agents who planned and helped execute the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden are federal employees.
Every day, Border Patrol agents and ICE agents are working to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, victims of human trafficking and drugs across our borders. Federal firefighters work to protect federal lands and mitigate the spread of deadly fires. Immediately following the December 2011 shooting at Virginia Tech, some of the first law enforcement officers on the scene were ATF agents. These are but a few examples of the vital jobs performed by federal employees.
Federal employees who are not in harm's way on a daily basis are also dedicated public servants. The medical researchers at the National Institutes of Health working to develop cures for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Lyme disease and autism are all federal employees. Dr. Francis Collins, the physician who mapped the human genome and serves as director of the NIH, is a federal employee. The CDC employees tracking steroid shots tainted with meningitis are federal employees. The USDA researchers who work with our farmers to find solutions for the invasive species that are destroying our crops are federal employees. The National Weather Service meteorologists who track tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as the FDA inspectors working to stop a salmonella outbreak, are federal employees.
The Nation's debt limit has been reached. We have annual deficits of more than $1 trillion. We are facing the prospect of across-the-board cuts to programs from the sequester. All of our Nation's fiscal problems could be resolved if the Congress had the will to pass the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles proposal, which I have long supported and have voted for.
I vote no.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 6726.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.