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John C.
Democrat MI 13

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  • Elimination of 2013 Pay Adjustment

    by Representative John Conyers Jr.

    Posted on 2013-02-15

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    CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose H.R. 273. This legislation is wrongheaded, unnecessarily antagonistic to federal workers, and it creates consequences which will be felt much longer than the 0.5 percent pay raise due to Federal employees starting in April.

    There are multiple problems with this legislation--here are a few that anyone can understand: First, federal employees have contributed their fair share to reduce our deficit and debt. Through the pay freeze and increased contributions to their pensions, they have cut $103 billion over ten years--that is roughly $50,000 per employee. The 0.5 percent increase in their pay that they have been given after two years of stagnant wages only costs $11 billion over ten years. That is not what is driving our nation's National debt.

    Second, federal employees have not only seen their wages stagnate, they have also seen their compensation--their wages and benefits--go down, even as the private sector has seen wage growth of 3.3 percent and compensation growth of 4.1 percent.

    Third, the proposed savings H.R. 273 promises are likely to never be realized. The best federal employees will leave for greener passages, and the most qualified candidates will seek opportunities elsewhere. The deficit reduction this bill promises will require increased training in the short term and may lead to a less efficient, and therefore more expensive Federal government for decades to come.

    I oppose this bill, H.R. 273, because our country simply cannot afford to drive our best federal employees out of our country's service.

    Instead, I have cosponsored and I urge the passage of a bill offered by Mr. Connolly of Virginia, which freezes Members of Congress' pay at current levels. I do not want a pay raise; I do not need a pay raise. However, our federal employees have paid far more than their fair share and do not deserve this additional unnecessary and punitive treatment from this Congress. I urge my colleagues to oppose the bill.

    Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 273, a bill that would extend the pay freeze on federal employees' salaries for the third consecutive year. By bringing H.R. 273 to the floor for a vote, House Republicans have once again singled out federal employees and their families as they look to place the burden of reducing the deficit squarely on the backs of middle class families.

    Like their private-sector counterparts, federal employees are subject to the same economic trends as any other worker in America. Federal employees have families just as their counterparts in the private sector, and have the same responsibilities to provide for them. With federal employees currently under a pay freeze for the past two years, it would be unfair to ask for continued sacrifice from only this select group of middle-income workers.

    Federal employees have already contributed $103 billion toward reducing our deficit through a series of pay freezes and reductions in benefits. The critical role of federal employees is often overlooked, and demanding further cuts to pay and benefits will diminish our ability to deliver on this government's promise to protect the American people.

    Mr. Speaker, I am not opposed to reining in wasteful government spending. However, I am opposed to continually placing an undue burden on federal workers to make up for wasteful spending in other areas of the federal budget. If we are serious about addressing our budget deficits, this Congress should focus more on passing a comprehensive budget that reflects shared sacrifices by all Americans.

    Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this latest attack on federal workers.

    H.R. 273 is not a responsible approach to deficit reduction.

    Federal employees have already been asked to make significant sacrifices to help reduce our debt. So far, they have contributed $103 billion toward deficit reduction through pay freezes and changes to retirement benefits. And, we have yet to take into account the prospect of furloughs and layoffs should the ill-advised, across the board cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act take effect in March.

    [[Page H566]] H.R. 273 would freeze federal employees' salaries for the third consecutive year, forcing federal workers to forego an additional $15 billion in pay over the next decade even though study after study has shown that federal employees actually earn less than their private sector counterparts when factors such as skill and education level are taken into account.

    H.R. 273 is not a serious attempt to address the budget deficit. The $15 billion it would raise represents barely a fraction of projected deficits over the next decade. True deficit reduction will need to be balanced and sacrifice will need to be shared.

    H.R. 273 is also shortsighted policy.

    The federal government should not be an employer of last resort. Our citizens depend on our ability to recruit the most qualified individuals to treat our wounded veterans, inspect our food, oversee nuclear power plants, protect us from terrorism, and provide a broad range of other critical services. H.R. 273 is yet another attempt by the Republican Majority to find a scapegoat for the deficit that shields the wealthiest individuals and corporations from making any kind of contribution. While this legislation would do virtually nothing to improve our budget outlook, it would force more economic harm on our dedicated federal workers and have a devastating long-term effect on the quality of government services and operations.

    I urge my colleagues to vote against this legislation.

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