Congressional Pay Freeze and Fiscal Responsibility Actby Representative Michael G. Fitzpatrick
Posted on 2013-01-01
FITZPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, the American people do not get an
automatic pay increase, and neither should Members of Congress.
My bill, the Congressional Pay Freeze and Fiscal Responsibility Act, gives us the chance to show the American people that, at least in this regard, that we do get it: freeze salaries now, including for Members of Congress, at current levels.
Mr. Speaker, there are too few opportunities in this town where issues can bring us together. The President has done that for us this week. 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, and has done so by executive order dated December 28.
I have to say that nobody in this town saw this coming, and very few think it is warranted. The Congress has not produced a budget in 3 years because the Senate refuses to do their job. The last thing they need is a pay increase. In fact, the No Budget, No Pay Act should be the law of this land. If you don't produce a budget within the prescribed period of time, you should not get paid. And if you a produce a budget after the proscribed period of time, you should not get paid retroactively.
Mr. Speaker, this is common sense, but common sense just isn't too common in this city, and there's no sense at all in the President's executive order to increase pay at this time--not now, not under these circumstances, and not in this economy. It is an action taken unilaterally by the President, which has earned an immediate and almost universal scorn, as well it should.
As we close out 2012, there are still too many issues unresolved. There are too few instances of accomplishments or results. Our economy is still at risk, and the American people are still struggling. American workers have given all they can. Have we? Have we given all that we can? I'm glad to see that so many in this Chamber have cosponsored this measure. And in the past 24 hours, I've seen comments from Democrats and Republicans expressing outrage at the President's unilateral executive order. A Democrat in the Senate called it the worst idea ever. A Democrat in this House has called it inappropriate.
So, extend the pay freeze for all Federal workers, including elected officials. This bipartisan policy was originally put in place by our Democrat colleagues because they recognized that the pain being felt across our economy could not be reserved for the private sector.
Federal workers in my district and across the country are hardworking individuals. They deserve fair compensation too. Mr. Speaker, we're not trying to punish or force unnecessary hardship on civil servants, but taxpayers should not be taking home less than Federal workers.
Recent studies have shown that the average Federal worker earns 20 percent more than a private worker in a similar position. This disparity is even wider when benefits are taken into account. We have to recognize that over recent years there's been a growing disparity between the compensation for Federal workers and their counterparts in the private sector, and, quite frankly, that sends exactly the wrong message at exactly the wrong time.
The President's own Debt Commission, which has thus far been ignored by the President, recommended a 3-year pay freeze for Federal Government workers. If it would have been adopted at that time, that pay freeze would have lasted through 2013, the same period of time that this bill proposes.
Of course, we all agree that the men and women of our Nation's military deserve a pay increase while our Nation is at war. This bill provides that members of the Armed Forces will continue to be eligible for the pay increases that have been supported by me and a strong bipartisan majority of my colleagues.
Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot of talk from some of our colleagues about shared sacrifice. Higher taxes from ObamaCare are coming, and tax rates for certain businesses and individuals are going to go up. The private sector and small businesses are being asked to sacrifice.
What kind of a message does it send if, at the same time, Members of Congress, the administration, and the Federal Government get a pay raise? That is exactly the wrong message at exactly the wrong time.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill and to send the American people the strong message that the public sector and elected officials do not consider themselves exempt from the economic realities of our time.