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Republican FL 6

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  • Elimination of 2013 Pay Adjustment

    by Representative Ron DeSantis

    Posted on 2013-02-15

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    Congressional Record, Volume 159 Issue 25 (Friday, February 15, 2013)

    [Congressional Record Volume 159, Number 25 (Friday, February 15, 2013)]
    [Pages H558-H566]
    From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                       ELIMINATION OF 2013 PAY ADJUSTMENT
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 66, I call up the 
    bill (H.R. 273) to eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for 
    Federal employees, and ask for its immediate consideration.
      The Clerk read the title of the bill.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 66, the bill is 
    considered read.
      The text of the bill is as follows:
                                    H.R. 273
           Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
         the United States of America in Congress assembled,
           (a) In General.--Section 147 of the Continuing 
         Appropriations Act, 2011 (Public Law 111-242; 5 U.S.C. 5303 
         note), as amended by section 114(a) of the Continuing 
         Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (Public Law 112-175; 126 
         Stat. 1316), is amended--
           (1) in subsection (b)(1), by striking the matter after 
         ``ending on'' and before ``shall be made'' and inserting 
         ``December 31, 2013,''; and
           (2) in subsection (c), by striking the matter after 
         ``ending on'' and before ``no senior executive'' and 
         inserting ``December 31, 2013,''.
           (b) Elimination of Delayed Adjustment.--Section 114(b) of 
         the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 is repealed.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) and 
    the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cummings) each will control 30 
      The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
                                 General Leave
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
    5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on 
    H.R. 273 and to include extraneous material thereon.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
    gentleman from California?
      There was no objection.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      Good-paying, full-time jobs should not be limited to those fortunate 
    enough to work for the Federal Government.
      At a time when hardworking American taxpayers are struggling to find 
    work and keep their heads above water, the Federal Government offers 
    its workforce sufficient and generous pay and job security. This is not 
    to imply that they're overpaid. This is not to imply that they're 
    overcompensated. That's a discussion for another day.
      But certainly, at a time in which the American people saw their 
    household income drop by $4,000, that has not happened in the Federal 
    workforce. Year after year, the Federal workforce has received step 
    increases and other pay increases. And with the exception of a 
    relatively limited pay freeze done under President Obama's executive 
    order, they, in fact, have received consistent pay increases and their 
    benefits have been maintained.
      At this time, we are faced with sequestration. Sequestration for our 
    men and women in uniform means aircraft do not fly, ships do not get 
    maintained, and, yes, furloughs may very well happen. To avoid 
    furloughs, to avoid arbitrarily cutting the most junior individuals or 
    stripping away our military's ability to protect us, it is a small 
    price to pay to, consistent with the President's previous pay freeze, 
    to hold pay increases of Federal employees for one more year.
                                  {time}  0940
      It is my sincere hope that, working together, we will both resolve 
    the budget shortfalls and get America working again over the next year. 
    But at a time when most--a great many--of the average Federal workers 
    make more than their private sector counterparts, when a great many 
    make more than $100,000 a year, at a time in which Members of Congress, 
    appropriately, have frozen their own pay year after year, it is a price 
    that we have the authority--and we ask the Federal workforce to agree 
    with us that in fact this is a year not to raise the pay of Federal 
    workers. Last year, we spent $11 billion on non-merit pay increases for 
    Federal workers. It's the right time to say no increases other than 
    those specifically deemed by specific merits under statute are 
      My colleagues on the other side of the aisle will not agree with 
    this, I have no doubt. But let me say one thing. I know that Mr. 
    Cummings and I do agree that we have to find viable alternatives to 
    stripping away the capability of our military to maintain our safety. 
    We have to find viable alternatives to cutting the important work on 
    medicines and other lifesaving Federal programs that in fact our 
    seniors and all of our citizens rely on. We could do this today, or we 
    could cut the National Institutes of Health. We could do this today, or 
    we could park two or three of our aircraft carriers and lay off the 
    crews. I don't think the other side has any question that a viable 
    alternative to those kinds of across-the-board cuts are clearly 
      So I ask the minority to join with me today in realizing that this is 
    not what we want to do. This is what we need to do if we're going to 
    prevent arbitrary cuts that in fact will touch Americans, in many 
    cases, in all the wrong ways.
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 273. Given the 
    many critical challenges our Nation faces, I and many of my colleagues 
    hope that the 113th Congress would bring a new era of shared purpose 
    that would enable us to work together to grow the Nation's economy, 
    create jobs, and invest in our country's future. There are only 5 
    legislative days, Mr. Speaker, left before the across-the-board cuts 
    required by sequestration will take effect. Rather than seeking 
    solutions to the urgent challenges we face, our Republican friends are 
    wasting 2 days simply renewing their attacks on middle class, 
    hardworking Federal employees.
      H.R. 273 has one purpose: it would extend the current freeze on 
    Federal employees' pay for a third consecutive year. Mr. Speaker, 
    Federal workers--the same Federal workers who care for our veterans, 
    the same ones that clean our offices, the same ones that find cures to 
    devastating diseases at NIH, the same ones that secure our borders, the 
    same ones that regulate our drug supply--have already contributed more 
    than $100 billion towards reducing the deficit and funding unemployment 
    benefits for millions of American workers. No other group of Americans 
    has contributed more to reducing the deficit. No other group has 
    contributed more to ensuring our government remains strong. No other 
    group has worked harder to ensure we're securing our Nation from 
    threats. No other group has worked harder to provide the services on 
    which our fellow citizens depend.
      If H.R. 273 becomes law, the same middle class, hardworking workers
    [[Page H559]]
    would be required to contribute another $11 billion towards deficit 
    reduction, for a staggering total of nearly $115 billion. These are the 
    same workers who have had their pay frozen for years. And these are the 
    same workers who are now facing the very real threat of furloughs and 
    layoffs if Congress fails to resolve sequestration by March 1. It's 
    estimated that 1 million employees will suffer furlough days. The 
    administration estimates that the arbitrary across-the-board budget 
    cuts for Federal agencies that would be required under sequestration 
    will result in the furlough of, again, a million employees.
      We are at a tipping point in our Nation. The American people have 
    reelected President Obama and voted in favor of policies that will 
    support continued growth, create new and expanded job opportunities, 
    and ensure the safety and health of our great Nation. However, here in 
    the House, the voters are not being heard, and we continue to waste 
    time considering measures that will only make our fellow Americans less 
    financially secure, less secure in their health care, less secure in 
    their children's education, and less secure in their jobs.
      One of the arguments that we consistently hear is that we need 
    certainty. People need to know exactly what is going to happen in their 
    lives. We've heard that argument over and over and over again. Yet when 
    it comes to Federal employees, we leave them in the lurch, not knowing 
    how much the next paycheck will be. At the same time, House Republicans 
    have refused to consider asking the richest among us to contribute a 
    dime more. And that's one of the most painful things about this entire 
    thing. A lot of times when I'm interviewing people to come to our 
    staff, a lot of them tell me, Congressman, we don't mind not taking 
    paychecks from the private sector because we want to do good for the 
    public sector. And they say that they want to simply feed their souls. 
    They want to do something significant. They want to affect broad groups 
    of people. But yet this is what they get.
      We could have spent today considering a proposal to eliminate tax 
    breaks used by oil and gas companies and hedge fund managers. We could 
    have spent today considering a limit to itemized deductions for the 
    wealthiest Americans. Instead, House Republicans continue to return to 
    the same hardworking middle class American workers over and over and 
    over again.
      The problem is that these repeated cuts will impair the ability of 
    the government to carry out its mission and service to the American 
    people. Social Security is located in my district, and I have seen and 
    talked to our Social Security employees, as they are my neighbors. And 
    they tell me that they have seen cut after cut with regard to 
    employees. And now you've got people who once had three people doing a 
    job, now there's one. And the cuts continue. They don't mind working, 
    they don't mind sacrifices. But they said that if you're going to make 
    us sacrifice, then let's have some equal sacrificing from people who 
    can afford the cuts.
      As President Obama has emphasized, ``our economy succeeds and our 
    economy grows when everybody's getting a fair shot and everybody's 
    getting a fair shake.'' I urge my colleagues to move beyond this 
    partisan agenda of denigrating our Nation's public servants and join 
    together to address the real issues Americans elected us to solve.
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      The loyal opposition is entitled to their opinion but they're not 
    entitled to their facts. Let's go through some facts.
      The ranking member may not remember January 1. I know it was a long 
    time ago--over a month. On January 1, with the President's blessing and 
    insistence, we raised the taxes on the highest income producers and on 
    family businesses by 5 percent on their ordinary income and by 5 
    percent on their capital gains. Capital gains would be a 33 percent 
    increase, from 15 to 20 percent.
      These were not small increases. These were huge. I didn't vote for 
    them. My ranking member did. I didn't vote for them because in fact the 
    President deliberately said, Oh, no, we're not going to touch anything 
    else in taxes, except to stick it to the rich. And he did. And this 
    body did. That was a decision. But I hope my ranking member will 
    remember that a month ago and a few days we had a huge tax increase--of 
    the President's choosing.
                                  {time}  0950
      It had been offered up by Republicans to work together to find 
    loopholes, but that was rejected in favor of a stick-it-to-the-rich tax 
    increase that he chose.
      There was $500 billion worth of revenue that would have been 
    generated per year--$5 trillion over 10 years--if the President had 
    been willing to go back to Bill Clinton-level taxes on all. He was not. 
    So it is the height of hypocrisy to come in 30 days--actually, in about 
    1 day--and begin talking about the next round of tax increases on a 
    relatively limited group of our population, the 1 percent or 3 percent, 
    and in fact start reducing their ability to have working capital for 
    new oil exploration, for new natural gas exploration, the things that 
    the President, just a few days ago, standing in front of where you are 
    today, lauded as great. We're becoming oil self-sufficient. We are 
    natural gas self-sufficient. We are, in fact, able to move to cleaner 
    fuels for our energy.
      But let's break something else down. My opponent--and I keep saying 
    opponent, he's my ranking member, but he is the loyal opposition here--
    he talks about $100 billion. I think we need to break it down. That's 
    $100 billion over 10 years. It's not even $10 billion in the first 
    year. His $100 billion of sacrifices, many of those sacrifices won't 
    even occur because people aren't going to necessarily be here for all 
    10 years, because next year or the year after, this Congress might be 
    able to increase pay to make up for what we have to hold back this 
    year. We may have that good time and good employment and good ability 
    to do that, and I would join with the Member to try to find that way.
      But the fact is what actually is being asked to be given up by the 
    typical Federal worker--the one that the President is calling such a 
    huge sacrifice--is $274 per employee per year.
      With that, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
    Ross), who has been a leader on this issue and who understands the 
    hardworking men and women of the Federal workforce and why this is 
      Mr. ROSS. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your efforts and leadership 
    on this particular issue.
      Mr. Speaker, at a time when our country is more than $16 trillion in 
    debt, I rise today in support of H.R. 273 and in support of my 
    colleague from Florida's efforts to hold the Federal Government more 
    accountable to taxpayers.
      As a former chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee 
    on the Federal Workforce, I held hearings about the discrepancies in 
    compensation and benefits between Federal employees and private sector 
    employees. And it's interesting to see what we found out. For example, 
    the Congressional Budget Office found that the total compensation for 
    Federal employees was 16 percent greater than that for the private 
    sector employees. The CBO has also reported that Federal employee 
    benefits were 48 percent more costly than the private sector employees' 
      As a former small business owner, I'm shocked to learn how serious 
    these discrepancies truly are. In the private sector, I've had the 
    responsibility to make a payroll, balance my budget, and reduce 
    spending during difficult economic times. At a time when our children 
    and our grandchildren are funding the Federal Government with a credit 
    card, Members of Congress have a responsibility to make the tough 
    choices and reduce spending. That is why, during my time as chairman, I 
    oversaw 2 years of Federal pay freezes.
      However, these Federal pay freezes were not my idea. In fact, it was 
    a bipartisan idea. The President, in his Simpson-Bowles Commission on 
    Fiscal Responsibility, recommended a 3-year pay freeze for Federal 
    employees. As a proponent of the Simpson-Bowles plan, I am happy that 
    the House will be following through today on this recommendation.
      Our talented Federal workforce performs exceptional duties critical 
    to the effective day-to-day operation and functioning of our 
    government. However, the government must also examine every area of its 
    budget during
    [[Page H560]]
    these difficult economic times in order to become more accountable to 
      Just so we're clear, this legislation also freezes pay for Members of 
    Congress--that's right, Members of Congress, including my own--for the 
    remainder of the year. If we are asking families of the Federal 
    workforce to bear some of this burden and to live within their means, 
    so should we, as Members of Congress, do the same.
      With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in 
    supporting this bipartisan Bowles-Simpson recommendation and vote 
    ``yes'' on the bill.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, the Republicans keep citing the Simpson-
    Bowles Commission in support of the bill. The Simpson-Bowles Commission 
    was a comprehensive deficit-reduction proposal that called for shared 
    sacrifice from all groups of Americans. I see only one group of 
    Americans being asked to sacrifice in this bill, and that's Federal 
      The studies conducted by the Congressional Budget Office, the 
    American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation rely upon 
    U.S. Census Bureau's current population survey, which consists of self-
    reported data from surveys of households. This data is not as reliable 
    as the data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is used by 
    the President's Pay Agent to set the annual Federal pay adjustments.
      I now yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from the 
    District of Columbia (Ms. Norton).
      Ms. NORTON. I thank my friend from Maryland for yielding.
      In furtherance of a point he was making, you can cite different 
    studies on this question, so let me cite the authoritative study, the 
    Federal Salary Council, 2012, a finding that Federal employees were 
    paid nearly 35 percent less than employees in similar occupations in 
    the private sector. This study was compiled by experts in labor 
    relations and pay policies, and it used data from the Bureau of Labor 
      Federal employees have not asked for a pass, but there is no way to 
    justify singling them out as a solitary target alone, repeatedly picked 
    out and picked on for cuts, apart from the rest of the Federal budget.
      Three years of frozen pay is a punishing cut in pay. Yet our Federal 
    workforce--although much smaller than it was 25 years ago--is so 
    efficient that they are serving millions more here and abroad. Each of 
    these hardworking civil servants, the best educated and most 
    specialized public employees in the country, either themselves perform 
    essential services the country cannot do without, or render vital 
    support for these services.
      The majority has graduated from demonizing Federal employees; they 
    now want their pay. They don't have the support from the country to cut 
    Federal pay, so for 3 years they have found a backdoor way to do 
    exactly that with never-ending pay freezes.
      Mr. Speaker, if enough was ever enough, enough freezes is enough this 
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I'd now like to yield 5 minutes to the 
    gentleman from Florida (Mr. DeSantis), a member of the committee and a 
    newcomer, but not someone who hasn't watched this play out time and 
    time again as people call $274 a catastrophe for the Federal workforce.
      Mr. DeSANTIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership on this 
      Mr. Speaker, we must change the way this government spends money. We 
    have to be responsible with the money that the government makes our 
    citizens send to Washington, D.C. Taxpayers deserve our best efforts to 
    put our Nation on a sustainable fiscal path.
      Now, this bill represents a small, but commonsense, measure that will 
    save taxpayers $11 billion. It reverses the President's executive order 
    at the end of last year which provides an automatic pay increase for 
    nonmilitary Federal employees, the Vice President, and members of the 
    President's Cabinet.
                                  {time}  1000
      It also extends the freeze on pay for Members of Congress through the 
    rest of the calendar year. This policy, as has been pointed out by some 
    of my colleagues, implements one of the recommendations of the 
    bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. Many government employees do 
    great work. Forestalling an automatic pay increase is not a reflection 
    on their work, but simply recognizes our current fiscal reality and the 
    fact that government salaries must bear some relationship to the 
    private sector salaries that support them.
      It should be stressed that this is a modest measure. This does not 
    prevent pay increases based on promotion or longevity or bonuses for 
    Federal employees from their agencies. Indeed, during the last 2 years 
    when this freeze has been implemented, the average Federal salary 
    increased by an average of $3,328, while the average private sector 
    employee saw an increase of just $1,404--if she was even lucky enough 
    to have a job at all.
      I hope this body will make decisions in the coming weeks that will 
    put the Federal Government on a path to a budget that will reach 
    balance within the next 10 years. If we can get our fiscal situation 
    stabilized, we can lay a foundation for robust economic growth and 
    private sector job creation which will benefit employees of all 
    stripes, government and private alike.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts 
    (Mr. Lynch).
      Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Maryland for 
      Mr. Speaker, I want to get away from the abstract here about studies 
    that talk about who's making what. I've got three VA facilities in my 
    district: the Brockton VA Hospital, the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital 
    and the West Roxbury Veterans Hospital. I spend a lot of time at the 
    VA. Earlier this week, I had a chance to go through and talk to a lot 
    of my VA folks: the nurses, the docs, the therapists, the nursing 
    assistants, and the orderlies.
      Right now, we are trying to deal with the traumatic brain injury and 
    PTSD issue at the VA, which is increasingly pernicious. We've got a lot 
    of folks who are doing a lot of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan coming 
    home, four, five, six tours of duty, and they've got problems. So we're 
    relying on our folks at the VA to take care of our sons and daughters 
    who are coming home, and they're hurting.
      Well, I just want to talk about one young woman who is a nursing 
    assistant down in Brockton at the VA. She's a GS-3. That's who we're 
    talking about. We're going to freeze her pay for the 3rd year in a row. 
    And she is trying her hardest to take care of our veterans. She's a GS-
    3 under the system. She makes $27,322 a year. That's what that young 
    woman makes. She's a nursing assistant. She's working in a psychiatric 
    ward trying to take care of our sons and daughters who are coming home 
    who need help, and we're freezing her pay by this bill. I'm talking 
    about real people doing real work for brave Americans.
      This is a disgrace. This is an absolute disgrace that we're doing 
    this. I thought that maybe after the President's election and the new 
    Congress coming in we'd get by this stuff. It is just disheartening to 
    see this thing go on. This is the 3rd year in a row that this young 
    lady's pay is going to be frozen. Not only that, but we don't have 
    enough folks coming into the VA system because we're keeping the wages 
    down. We can't compete with the private hospitals that are paying a lot 
    more money. The docs at the private hospitals in my district, and I've 
    got a bunch of them, the nurses and the therapists, they're all making 
    a lot more money than the folks at the VA. And we're driving down the 
    wages of these people and not taking care of them.
      I don't want to point out the stuff about the pay for Congress. We 
    ought to have our pay frozen. I have voted six times to freeze 
    Congress' pay since I've been here in Congress, and we should do that. 
    We shouldn't do it for a few months, like this bill does. We should 
    freeze it right through the end of the Congress, because we should lead 
    by example. I really believe that. We should freeze congressional pay.
      I have a bill here that will do that right through the end of the 
    Congress. I know it doesn't make some of my colleagues happy and their 
    spouses happy, but I think it's something we ought to do. So let's get 
    away from this stuff, beating up Federal employees. Let's try to do the 
    right thing. It's an honorable thing, public service. We ought to
    [[Page H561]]
    take care of our folks at the VA. Don't freeze their pay.
      I ask my friends across the aisle to please join with me in voting 
    against this measure.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I said earlier, and now I have to repeat it, 
    the other side is entitled to their opinion but not their facts.
      Mr. Speaker, that's the number. Almost half a million out of 2 
    million of our Federal workforce receive over $100,000, but the 
    gentleman from Massachusetts chose to pick a GS-3. Okay, fine. This is 
    an entry-level, unskilled position. But let's understand something. It 
    still pays better than the minimum wage job that you're hoping to get 
    in some cases, and it pays more than an awful lot of jobs out there. As 
    a matter of fact, it pays about the average for somebody who has no 
    special skills coming in. But we won't even debate that. We won't 
    debate any of that.
      Let's have the facts, the truth. That woman receives a step increase 
    every year. She has gotten a pay increase every year, like the rest of 
    most of the workforce. As a 3 level, she's getting a step increase. So 
    to say that she didn't get a pay raise is just not true. If my 
    colleague from Massachusetts were better informed, he would have said 
    that himself rather than leaving that fact out of the pay raise that 
    was achieved, because step increases occur even during pay freezes.
      With that, I will yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
      Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chairman in 
    bringing this forward and the comments that have been had.
      Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this legislation because I believe the 
    American people have had enough hypocrisy. This is not about Federal 
    workers. This is about financial reality. This is what we've got to 
    look at right now. What I have told my staff, and I have told many in 
    our district too many times that we cannot let the emotion of the 
    moment miss the honesty of the moment.
      Last month, many Americans saw their own paychecks decrease as a 
    result of a payroll tax increase. While average Americans were feeling 
    the effects of this tax increase at home, the President was pushing 
    through a pay raise for Federal employees and, yes, including Members 
    of Congress.
      There are hardworking men and women in my district who are struggling 
    to make ends meet. They would love a raise, but, unlike the 
    administration, they don't have the power to unilaterally take taxpayer 
    dollars and increase their own paycheck. Instead, they have sacrificed, 
    made cuts, and they've gotten rid of the extras in their daily lives 
    and found ways to live within their means.
      They have done these things using a process that the President could 
    learn from. Families across the State of Georgia and across the Nation 
    sit down and decide their priorities, and they make tough decisions on 
    how to spend their money. I cannot support the government taking on 
    more debt to give raises to Members of Congress and the Federal 
    employees at this time.
      I submitted an amendment on this to Rules Committee extending this 
    pay freeze through the end of next year. I'm glad to see my friend from 
    across the aisle from Massachusetts would agree with me on that, 
    because I believe we need to resolve this issue and move forward with 
    serious reforms to address our Nation's fiscal crisis. Just as millions 
    of Americans have done for their entire lives, Washington needs to 
    learn to make do.
      America does not need pay raises for bureaucrats. They need real 
    leadership. They need real reform and a real commitment to putting our 
    country back on a path of prosperity. American taxpayers deserve no 
      Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Lynch mentioned a nurse taking care of 
    veterans. I just want to say that it's not about somebody being 
    unskilled. She's taking care of some folks who have served us and need 
    skillful workers, and $27,000, I don't know whether anybody has looked 
    at daycare here lately, but just daycare can cost you $27,000.
      Mr. ISSA. Will the gentleman yield for a question?
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I don't have much time, unless you're going to give me 
    some time. If you give me some time, I'd be happy to yield. I've got a 
    number of speakers.
      Mr. ISSA. I'll wait.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield 2 minutes to my distinguished colleague, the 
    gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Clay).
      Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Maryland for yielding.
      I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 273, a deeply flawed bill 
    that punishes all Federal workers across the Nation by not even 
    allowing them to have a half of a percent salary increase.
      Once again, the majority is showing America that they do not care 
    about the suffering of middle class Federal employees after they have 
    already accepted a 2-year pay freeze and a freeze on retirees' cost-of-
    living adjustments.
                                  {time}  1010
      Federal employees are intelligence analysts who defend America's 
    borders; they are nurses and doctors who care for our veterans; they 
    are scientists who conduct lifesaving research, which is producing 
    remarkable results and generating new jobs across this country; and 
    they provide countless other Federal services to all of our 
      It is wrong to intentionally target our Nation's best and brightest 
    public servants by giving them good reason to quit their government job 
    and move to the private sector.
      My friends, the sad truth is that this bill is not really about 
    deficit reduction. It is just the latest act in more bad political 
    theater that does nothing to strengthen our economy.
      My honorable colleague, Federal employees are my constituents and 
    your constituents. They are hurting. We should not be wasting time on 
    political nonsense like this.
      I urge my friends on both sides of the aisle to put our country 
    before our politics. Let's defeat this reckless and unfair bill, and 
    then let's sit down together to force a reasonable compromise that will 
    reduce the deficit, avoid the sequester, and restore economic security 
    for middle class families.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      Mr. Speaker, again the facts speak louder than the rhetoric. The .4 
    percent is less than a quarter of the exit rate in the Federal 
    workforce of the private sector, one of the reasons people in the 
    private sector are fighting to figure out how to get a job that pays 
    better. This is our exit in the public sector.
      They're not leaving because they weren't paid enough. There's no 
    draconian cuts.
      Mr. CLAY. Will the gentleman yield?
      Mr. ISSA. Not any more than your Member did.
      The fact is this is the truth, and the facts speak louder. Only 22 
    percent of the Federal workforce believes that their pay is linked to 
    performance. Of course the Federal workforce doesn't like not getting 
    $274 more for the remainder of this year. Neither do I.
      Mr. CLAY. Will the gentleman yield?
      Mr. ISSA. You'll have your time.
      Mr. CLAY. I don't have time.
      Mr. ISSA. The fact is we have a problem, and the problem is everyone 
    wants to call a total of about $1 billion of not increases as somehow 
      The .4 percent, they're not leaving the workforce. That's the 
    important thing.
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to know how much time we 
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Maryland has 15\1/2\ 
    minutes remaining.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. 
      Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Maryland.
      The distinguished chairman of this committee says that we're entitled 
    to our opinions, but not our own facts while he calls upon our friend 
    from Florida, a former member of our committee, who cherry-picks from 
    the Simpson-Bowles committee, the same committee that said we need a $4 
    trillion hit on the debt over the next 10 years and it has to be a 
    balance between revenue and spending cuts. My friend from Florida and 
    my friend from California fail to cite that fact. That's a fact.
      The chairman just put up a sign talking about the exit rate in the 
    [[Page H562]]
    workforce. What he doesn't tell you is that 47 percent of the existing 
    Federal workforce is eligible for retirement over this next decade 
    because of the baby boom demographic. How will we replace them, 
    especially the higher-skilled set?
      My friend from California, like me, came from the private sector 
    before he came here. He was more successful than I. Very successful. I 
    applaud him for that. But I would hope that in that success we don't 
    lose sight of that GS-3 making $27,000 a year serving our veterans at a 
    veterans hospital.
      It's easy when we don't suffer low wages to perhaps lose perspective 
    about the real need, even in our Federal workforce. And at the higher 
    end, the more we disparage our Federal workforce, the more we make it 
    less attractive. The more we treat them like a piggy bank, the less 
    attractive that service will be.
      We are a far, far distance from when John Kennedy called Americans to 
    public service because he saw it, as did so many of that generation, as 
    a noble calling.
      We haven't just asked for a few hundred dollars from every Federal 
    worker. We have attempted or succeeded in freezing their wages 3 years 
    in a row. Another fact that my friend from California, the 
    distinguished chairman of our committee, conveniently does not point 
    out is that we have done more than that, and we've attempted to do more 
    than that. We've funded the payroll tax cut with $15 billion of cuts 
    for prospective Federal employees in the pension programs. We attempted 
    for the first time ever--unheard of, no nexus--to fund transit in the 
    transportation bill to the tune of $50 billion in cuts from existing 
    pension programs, breaking an existing contract. That's a fact too. 
    Maybe an inconvenient one.
      Federal workers deserve the dignity of the work they provide. Federal 
    workers need to be respected for serving our constituents. The losers 
    in this debate won't just be them; it will be the people they serve.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to myself.
      It is the minority's job to find facts that, in fact, we may not have 
    said. I appreciate them doing that rather than flinging opinions and 
    statements about people's intent.
      Mr. Ross stood here, though, and he told us facts. And he has a bill, 
    a Simpson-Bowles-type bill that is comprehensive. He isn't just here 
    picking facts. He picked apart Simpson-Bowles and put together a 
    comprehensive savings bill that, in fact, was modeled after Simpson-
    Bowles. If he were here, I would have given him time to say just that, 
    because he's a leader in our Congress.
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield just 1 minute to myself.
      I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, I hope that our Members before they 
    vote on this bill will take a moment and talk to their own employees 
    and find out why they're in Federal Government and why they really work 
    for the government. That's all I want them to do. And I guarantee you 
    nine out of 10 of them will say, because we love what we do, because we 
    want to make a contribution.
      With that, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. 
      Mr. WOLF. I rise in opposition to the bill.
      I saw the movie ``Zero Dark Thirty.'' In the movie, the woman, Maya, 
    who is working for 10 years to find Osama bin Laden and the entire 
    team, Maya's pay raise and pay has been frozen--and the team--for the 
    last 10 years.
      There's a scene in the movie--I don't want to ruin it if you haven't 
    seen it--but seven CIA employees were killed in Khost, Afghanistan. I 
    went to the memorial service in my congressional district in Langley 
    where I watched the young kids. One little kid had a blazer on and 
    khakis. I watched him come in. The team that replaced the team that was 
    killed in Khost had a pay freeze for 3 years. The FBI agent who stopped 
    that young boy from being killed down in Alabama and just ran up a 
    Taliban terrorist up in California, pay raise? No. A freeze for 3 
      Over the last 5 years, one ICE agent killed, one Secret Service agent 
    killed, three ATF agents killed, one DEA agent killed, two U.S. 
    Marshals killed, air traffic controllers that put the safety for my 
    family and your family and our constituents as they fly through the 
    sky, the NIH.
      My family has been devastated by cancer. My father and mother died of 
    cancer. Cancer has impacted my family. Dr. Collins mapped the human 
    genome system that will save many of you and the lives of your sons and 
    daughters because of basically following that system, working on liver 
    cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, which my mom 
    died of. You will drive people like that--Dr. Collins and his team will 
    have been frozen for 3 years.
      With regard to NASA, we just went through the 10th anniversary of the 
    Challenger explosion. Those astronauts that sit on that rocket, those 
    now and in the future, if you have NASA facilities in your district and 
    they sit on that Soyuz rocket that goes up, they froze their pay for 3 
                                  {time}  1020
      The firefighters out in the West who you'll call on and beg to come 
    and fight when the storms come this summer--and they're coming--have 
    been frozen. There's the Weather Service. For those of you from Florida 
    and in the tornado area and in the hurricane area, the weathermen stay 
    around the clock, working--frozen for 3 years. There was Border Patrol 
    Agent Brian Terry and the people who worked with him, who are on the 
    border where violent gangs come across the border--frozen for 3 years. 
    There is the DEA and others.
      There are the doctors out at Walter Reed. If you go out and visit 
    Walter Reed or go visit your VA hospitals, the doctors and the nurses 
    who are working with the wounded warriors, people who have lost their 
    limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq--frozen for 3 years.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield the gentleman an additional 15 seconds.
      Mr. WOLF. I recognize the good intentions of the gentleman in what 
    they're trying to do. It's not justice and it's not fair. I urge a 
    ``no'' vote for this bill.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself just 1 minute.
      I know the gentleman didn't mean to when he was talking about Maya, 
    but he did say that her pay has been frozen for 10 years. I'm sure he 
    meant 2 years and, if we enact this, a third year. Mr. Wolf is a 
    dedicated servant of this country, but he did say a couple of things 
    that I'd like to touch on.
      First of all, when we talk about the men and women of Congress and 
    when they say they do it for the right reasons--they do it because they 
    care--we're doing it with 11.5 percent less money in the House on both 
    sides of the aisle. So, in fact, in many cases, we're paying the same 
    or less than we were paying before. We've made those cuts. The Federal 
    workforce has not seen an 11.5 percent reduction in actual dollars 
    spent, but our offices have made those cuts under the Speaker's 
      Lastly, I certainly believe when we talk about Walter Reed that we 
    should include what the commander of Walter Reed told me on Monday of 
    this week, and that was that he is now in the process of planning whom 
    to let go.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself an additional 15 seconds.
      He, in fact, is in a situation--a commander there, a two-star--of 
    dealing with the possibility of furloughing for a 20 percent reduction. 
    With the number he has been given, he cannot possibly maintain the same 
    level of care for those men and women--those wounded warriors and those 
    veterans. It will be devastating if we do not find ways to deal with 
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has again expired.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself an additional 10 seconds.
      I was at Walter Reed. Walter Reed has a problem, and this is a small 
    part of the solution. Every man and woman at Walter Reed would rather 
    have a pay freeze than, in fact, see people disappear from their rolls 
    and not be able to service the needs of those people.
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. The gentleman talked about the employees on our 
    committees taking a pay cut. That's true that they took a pay cut, and 
    every single one of my employees who
    [[Page H563]]
    took a 5 percent pay cut--and sometimes a little bit more--said one 
    thing to me: We don't mind sacrificing. We will. This was from every 
    single one of them. But they said: Others have sacrificed, too.
      With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. 
      Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Cummings, thank you very much.
      We all talk about our heroes in this country, and there are some real 
    ones. There are 103 names at the CIA--we don't talk much about CIA 
    officers, FBI officers, State Department officers--who gave their 
    lives. Benghazi, still fresh in our minds, brought the country to its 
    knees in horror, in agony, in mourning. There are State Department 
    officers who lost their lives, and we have the audacity to tell them 
    that we're going to deny them--I don't care if it's $1. At Camp 
    Chapman, Afghanistan, six CIA officers and the chief of station were 
    brutally murdered, and six were seriously injured.
      I have the honor of being on the House Intelligence Committee. I've 
    been to Camp Chapman. I've been to these forward operating bases. I've 
    been to Africa. I've talked to these CIA officers who are putting their 
    lives on the line every single minute of every day. They don't know 
    when an attack is coming on them, and they don't know from which 
    direction. Yet we're going to tell them that they should not get even a 
    single dollar?
      Shame. That's not what we should be about. That's never what we 
    should be about.
      If we can't put those who are protecting this country at the top of 
    the list and understand, then shame on us. If we didn't understand this 
    was in the bill, shame on us. If we did understand it was in the bill 
    and if we did it anyhow, then even more shame on us. This is wrong and 
    we should not do it.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      The gentleman from New Jersey is right. He is right when he said that 
    we, in fact, have to make these tough decisions. This isn't freezing 
    the pay of our men and women in uniform, and perhaps we should 
    scrutinize in detail as to the station chiefs and the others in harm's 
    way their combat pay, their special hazard pay and so on. We held a 
    hearing on Benghazi, and we were very aware that, in fact, they weren't 
    paid enough to die for their country needlessly because we didn't do 
    the right thing. I have no doubt about it.
      I represent Camp Pendleton. The marines of Camp Pendleton--the First 
    Marine Expeditionary Force--have deployed more than anybody. They have 
    been in Iraq, they have been in Afghanistan, and they have been on 
    those FOBs. In fact, we need to make sure we support them. That's the 
    reason we're looking for alternatives to sequestration every day, and 
    we would love to have people on the other side of the aisle.
      So, when we talk about the men and women in harm's way, it's not, in 
    fact, those in the towers helping to get our planes safely landed, and 
    it's not the people inspecting our food. We have to make tough choices, 
    and I join with anyone who wants to make tough choices on behalf of 
    those in harm's way. Let's remember that we are talking here of the 
    vast majority. These are Federal civil servants who, in fact, are paid 
    pretty darned well, who are not leaving, and we are asking for a small 
      I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much time both 
    sides have.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Maryland has 6\1/2\ 
    minutes. The gentleman from California has 9\1/2\ minutes.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
      My good friend, the chairman of our committee, has several times 
    talked about loyal opposition. I am not the loyal opposition. I am 
    someone who believes in what I'm talking about, and I'm not standing 
    here opposing legislation just to be opposing it because I'm a 
      We have to put a human face on all of this. I live in an area in 
    Baltimore where a lot of these employees who are making $40,000, 
    $45,000 or less take the early bus, and they are the ones who believe 
    in what they do. The Social Security Administration is smack dab in the 
    middle of my district.
      I think about the people who make $100,000 or more, but we have to 
    remember who those employees are. Many of them we see every day. These 
    are employees who are highly skilled professionals, and I think Mr. 
    Wolf and Mr. LoBiondo talked about them. These are folks, such as 
    doctors on staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs, who treat our 
    wounded warriors. They're the lawyers at the Department of Justice and 
    at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and we've heard their 
    testimony before our committee. These are folks who deal with some 
    very, very complex issues, and almost any law firm would be willing to 
    pay them far more than what they are earning to work for the agencies 
    for which they work. These are the folks who investigate and prosecute 
    complex fraud and criminal cases. These are some of the most famous 
    scientists in the world and air traffic controllers who help navigate 
    our planes.
      Just a few months ago, the ranking member and the chairman of the 
    committee and I went to an awards ceremony at which Federal employees, 
    who contribute so much to our society and who could earn far more than 
    what they're earning, were getting awards for doing some very 
    magnificent and awesome things.
                                  {time}  1030
      I want to just spend some time on this one issue. It's not so much 
    again that Federal employees don't mind sacrificing. They don't mind 
    sacrificing. The question is will others sacrifice, too, those who are 
    making far more money than they're making. But yet and still they're 
    asked over and over and over again to pay more and more and more.
      And so this is a very deep-felt situation with most of the people who 
    have spoken--all of them. And as I listened to Mr. LoBiondo and I 
    listened to Mr. Wolf, what they were basically doing was making a case 
    and reminding us that Federal employees go into the business of being 
    our Federal employees because they want to make a difference.
      With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield myself 30 seconds.
      Earlier there was a statement made about a nurse making $27,000. 
    After checking, we discovered that's a nurse's assistant. I think it is 
    important to understand that a nurse at the Veterans Administration 
    would make a lot more. A nursing assistant is paid a modest salary, 
    $27,000, plus probably another 10 or $11,000 in direct benefits. It's 
    still more than the national average for somebody with that skill 
    level. It is still a steady job, and it still would have had a step 
      With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Maryland, a 
    fellow Marylander, Mr. Hoyer.
      Mr. HOYER. Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, there is not time to debate in 
    the time I have available how we determine Federal pay. I was a sponsor 
    of the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act which George Bush signed 
    back in 1990. I know a little bit about this.
      America is confronting a sequestration that will have a devastating 
    impact on our economy, on every individual in America, and on 
    international confidence in America's ability to manage itself. And 
    what have we spent 2 days on? A quarter percent cap on cost-of-living 
    adjustment for Federal employees. A quarter of a percent. Some of us in 
    this body earn that in about 10 minutes. Not all of us, but some of us. 
      Yet we fiddle while America faces a sequester burn. And sequester is 
    Republican policy. July 19, 2011, Cut, Cap and Balance brought to this 
    floor; 98 percent of Republicans, 229, voted for it. What was the 
    fallback position? Sequester, an irrational policy that cuts across the 
    board irrespective of the priority. And so what does the majority in 
    this Congress do? It has now wasted 2 weeks on debate of nickel-diming 
    the people we rely on to protect our domestic safety, our international 
    security, our food and drugs, our health care, our borders.
      I join in the remarks of my good friend, Frank Wolf. He and I have 
    been here 32 years. We have some understanding of what is proper and 
    [[Page H564]]
    proper in terms of managing the government.
      Now, the sponsor of this legislation has been here approximately 45 
    days--45 days--and he introduces a bill to cap, by a quarter of a 
    percent, Federal employees. The animosity directed at our Federal 
    employees is so great that we have now taken 2 weeks to try to diminish 
    their pay and benefits--how sad--while the sequester looms 14 days from 
    today, putting at risk, as I've said, America's economy, creation of 
    American jobs, the sense of confidence in our country.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
      Mr. CUMMINGS. I yield an additional 1 minute to the gentleman.
      Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman.
      And the perception around the world that America is a serious 
    situation. How sad. How shameful.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. 
    Cummings) has expired.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I inquire as to how much time I have 
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from California has 9 minutes.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield 2 minutes to the chairman of the Rules Committee, a 
    person very knowledgeable of how this law that the President signed 
    came to be passed.
      Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chairman of the Committee 
    on Oversight and Government Reform yielding me this time this morning.
      Mr. Speaker, there is a lot being said about this deal that we're now 
    engaged in, sequestration. But I believe, looking back, and I believed 
    it at the time, that the people who engaged in the idea did this 
    because they never really wanted to live up to it. They put forth an 
    idea, the President of the United States, the White House, and our 
    friends on the other side of the building, and some, I'm sure, on this 
    side. They cut a deal to avoid the reality that the President of the 
    United States was engaged in with us trying to resolve differences that 
    we had about excessive spending.
      The facts of the case are a deal was cut. This came directly out of 
    the White House, and it was to avoid having to make a tough decision at 
    the time. And I don't know this--I wasn't in the meetings--but I'm sure 
    it was something that they thought would never happen. That's not 
    serious. When the President of the United States offers a compromise 
    that was his idea and it's signed into law, that's law, and that's what 
    we're counting on and that's what the American people count on.
      We in this body, Republicans, stood by a deal that was cut. Now, I 
    don't like the deal, but this House twice, the House of Representatives 
    has twice passed a plan that says we think there's a better way to do 
    it. There's been nothing that's been countered by the White House or by 
    the Senate. We've not been engaged. The President of the United States 
    is engaged in spinning, by traveling on Air Force One around the 
    country, the ideas that don't help us solve the problem but that make 
    matters worse.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
      Mr. ISSA. I yield an additional 15 seconds to the gentleman.
      Mr. SESSIONS. I think what we did then was a tough decision, and I'm 
    sorry to hear now that we're being blamed for accepting a compromise 
    out of the White House. I know what's happening, and so do you, Mr. 
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to 
      Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Texas was right. The President signed 
    sequestration; the President asked for sequestration; the President 
    negotiated sequestration; and the President has had from this body 
    alternatives to sequestration repeatedly. The minority in this body has 
    not offered viable alternatives to sequestration. The Democratic 
    majority in the Senate has done nothing to block sequestration.
      Mr. HOYER. Will my friend yield on that point?
      Mr. ISSA. I yield to the gentleman.
      Mr. HOYER. Is the gentleman aware that 2 weeks ago and this week the 
    majority has denied us the opportunity to offer an alternative?
      Mr. ISSA. I'm not aware of that, but this is not a new bill. You've 
    had alternatives in the past.
      Mr. Speaker, I noticed that I was closing, and I do believe the other 
    side is completely out of time; is that correct?
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time of the gentleman from Maryland has 
      Mr. ISSA. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      As I close, I think it is important that we take Mr. Hoyer's very 
      First of all, he said ``Mr. President'' before ``Mr. Speaker,'' which 
    got me to remind myself that the President is responsible for 
    sequestration, something we're trying to avoid. The President has 
    offered no viable alternative to sequestration. The President avoided 
    $5 trillion worth of new revenue because he wanted to say he was only 
    sticking it to the rich or, as Mr. Hoyer would say, those people who 
    earn more money in 10 minutes than this amount.
                                  {time}  1040
      The thing that I want everyone to understand that the gentleman from 
    Maryland said that is so right, this is only a quarter of a percent. 
    He's right, this is a very small amount. It's $1 billion total over the 
    Federal workforce for the remainder of this fiscal year. And over the 
    last 2 years, this is how much the increase has been: $3,328 or about 
    $1,500, $1,600 a year is how much the Federal workforce has got in a 
    pay increase while they were under a freeze.
      The reason it's only a quarter of a percent when you see about a 5 
    percent increase in the last 2 years in actual compensation is the 
    Federal workforce system, Mr. Speaker, includes basically automatic 
    step increases for the vast majority of employees, meaning so many 
    people who talked about how this was being devastating are forgetting 
    the fact that while the American worker got little or no pay increase, 
    the American family saw a reduction in their actual revenue, the 
    Federal workforce enjoyed 2\1/2\ percent increases while under a 
    freeze. And, yes, Mr. Speaker, they will get another 2\1/2\ percent 
    increase this year even though we forego this one-quarter percent 
    automatic pay increase.
      That's the amazing thing that can only happen here in Washington is 
    people can come and talk about devastation, great sacrifice, a 
    willingness to sacrifice, but not so much. Well, in fact, every year 
    that dedicated employee, the GS-3 there as a nurse assistant, she got 
    this kind of an increase year after year after year, even during a pay 
      We're not here to talk today about the dedicated men and women both 
    in and out of uniform, but we have. And I want to commend all of those 
    men and women who serve our country. But I want to commend them while 
    saying that this is a small sacrifice. As Mr. Hoyer said, as the whip, 
    the Democratic whip, a representative of the party of the President, 
    this third-year pay freeze called for initially by the President, in 
    fact, is not an absence of increases--the increases are significant to 
    anyone listening in America. These are real increases they're getting 
    while we're foregoing in this bill a quarter of a percent.
      So I want to thank the Democratic whip. He made it very, very clear 
    that, in fact, this is miniscule. To him, $1 billion, $11 billion over 
    10 years, is not enough to even spend 2 days of the Congress on. And 
    perhaps he's right; perhaps we should have done much more. Perhaps this 
    small amount, this incredibly small amount, $274 on an average employee 
    for the remainder of this fiscal year, is too little to pick up.
      But if it's too little to bother with, isn't it also too little to 
    have so much opposition to? The fact is, and the facts are stubborn, 
    this is a small reduction in what would otherwise be a significant 
    increase that they're going to get anyway.
      So, Mr. Speaker, as I urge my colleagues to vote for this, I remind 
    them that we have asked for this time and time again, that the 
    President has not seen fit to keep up his own request, the President 
    has not, in fact, been aware or willing to deal with the rest of the 
    increases. He takes credit for what you would call a small quarter 
    percent reduction and calls it a freeze.
      Well, the Federal workforce received a good compensation. The fact is 
    when you go from $69,000 for a typical or median income of Federal 
    workers, to $72,000 during the period of a pay freeze, it reminds me of 
    a can of soda--that when you freeze it, it doesn't
    [[Page H565]]
    change, but the can ruptures because it has swelled.
      We have increased the actual compensation, of payroll compensation, 
    to the Federal workforce by an average of $3,300 during a time in which 
    the American people are told there's a freeze. And we will increase 
    their pay an average of about $1,600 during this freeze if it becomes 
      So, Mr. Speaker, this is small, as the whip said. It is so small that 
    I call on the members of the loyal opposition to be the kind of 
    Democratic Party that understands that this is so small that they 
    certainly should vote for it. It is not a great sacrifice; it is a very 
    small sacrifice. Every Federal worker eligible for step increases will 
    see compensation increases, an average of $1,600 this year, when we're 
    only foregoing $274.
      At a time like this the President and Congress must face reality.
      We cannot keep spending money that we do not have.
      H.R. 273 stops an $11 billion expense for non-merit based raises that 
    has no business moving forward.
      The economy is struggling, hard-working taxpayers are suffering--it 
    is fundamentally wrong to reward government workers while everyone else 
    is trying to make ends meet.
      The idea of giving raises to government workers at a time like this 
    highlights how out-of-touch Washington has become with the rest of the 
      The truth is government pay and classification systems, many designed 
    in the 1940s, lack the flexibility needed to keep pace with the current 
    work environment and demands.
      That is why the President's top pay advisors continue to point to the 
    need for reform.
      The numbers don't lie. Once people get a government job, they rarely 
    leave it.
      The private sector quit rate is 4\1/2\ times higher than that of the 
    federal sector.
      Moving fully to a merit-based pay system would give agencies needed 
    flexibility to use appropriated funds to better compensate our hardest 
    working federal employees and attract those with critical skills.
      The responsible conversation we should be having is about pay reform, 
    not across-the-board raises with no measure of performance.
      Simpson Bowles recommended a three year pay freeze.
      Anyone who claims to be serious about reducing the debt and reigning 
    in Washington's out-of-control spending could not in good conscience 
    support this $11 billion spending measure.
      With that, I urge support for this bill, and I yield back the balance 
    of my time.
      Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this short-sighted, 
    unnecessary, and ill-conceived bill. H.R. 273 imposes yet another pay 
    freeze on federal employees, many of whom have not seen a cost of 
    living adjustment in over two years. The men and women who have 
    dedicated their careers to public service--the majority of whom earn 
    middle-class wages--have already made sacrifices in pay and benefits 
    totaling more than $100 billion to help reduce our Nation's debt.
      Federal employees in several sectors already earn less than their 
    private-sector counterparts. These are the men and women who care for 
    our veterans, keep our airplanes flying and ensure our food is safe to 
    eat. They work in every Congressional district, from the Centers for 
    Disease Control in Atlanta to the Department of Veterans Affairs in 
    Providence. In fact, 85 percent of federal employees live outside of 
    the Washington, DC, area, with 18,000 located in my home state of Rhode 
      Not only does this bill prevent hard-working federal employees from 
    receiving a modest pay adjustment in an attempt to keep pace with the 
    rising cost of living, it sends the unfortunate message to bright young 
    people that they will not be valued if they choose a career in public 
    service. At this time of national crisis, when we are facing so many 
    challenges, we should be encouraging the brightest minds in the country 
    to help solve these problems.
      I support and have cosponsored the bill introduced by Mr. Cummings 
    and Mr. Connolly to extend the pay freeze for members of Congress. But 
    just because I do not believe this body deserves a pay raise does not 
    mean we must also punish the talented men and women who have dedicated 
    their careers to supporting the United States of America.
      It's time to get serious about moving this country forward. We only 
    have five legislative days left until automatic budget cuts go into 
    effect, costing us a projected 750,000 jobs this year alone and 
    threatening to plunge our economy back into a recession. Instead of 
    dealing with the looming sequester, House Republicans have us voting on 
    a bill that has no chance of passing the Senate, and then sending us 
    home for a week-long recess.
      I have already co-signed a letter urging Speaker Boehner to keep 
    members in Washington until we have averted the impending across-the-
    board spending cuts and put our budget on a fiscally sustainable path. 
    I repeat that message again today: Mr. Speaker, it is time to stop with 
    these phony messaging bills and get to work.
      I urge my colleagues to join me in rejecting this unnecessary bill 
    and bringing up legislation that will actually address our immediate 
    fiscal problems. Our constituents are counting on us to act, and we 
    must not let them down.
      Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, it is extraordinarily frustrating for me 
    that we have spent all week avoiding opportunities to make progress on 
    areas on which we agree to avoid or minimize the effects of the 
    sequester meat axe and instead singled out, again, our federal 
      Suffice it to say, making them a repeated target is unfair, 
    unproductive, and avoids the hard decisions we should be tackling.
      Mr. 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 
      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 
      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 
      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.
      Mrs. ROBY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 273, a bill 
    that would prevent the President's pay hike for federal workers and 
    Members of Congress.
      H.R. 273 is a good bill that deserves our support. In a time of 
    historic budget difficulty, the bill rightly seeks to limit federal 
    spending on the government workforce. The bill also recognizes what the 
    American People know to be true: too many private sector employees 
    remain without work during this protracted period of high unemployment. 
    I will vote in support of H.R. 273 later today.
      While this legislation is a step in the right direction, we should go 
    further to prevent excessive spending by also suspending the automatic 
    step increases that federal employees will continue to receive even if 
    H.R. 273 is enacted into law.
      I have been disappointed that over the past two years of the 
    President's so-called ``freeze'' on federal pay, federal employees have 
    continued to receive step increases. According to the Office of 
    Personnel Management, these increases have resulted in a median pay 
    increase of approximately $3,164 per federal employee--all during the 
    so-called pay freeze.
      These step increases are not based on merit, and there are serious 
    flaws with this system. For example, all employees in the Government 
    Service pay plan who completed their ``waiting period'' received a 
    three percent raise in pay during this period.
      Mr. Speaker, do private sector workers receive a three percent salary 
    increase for simply completing a ``waiting period?''
      No, of course not.
      During this time, salaries in the private sector only increased by 
    $1,404, less than half of what federal salaries gained on average, 
    according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
      If the President is going to say he is freezing pay, he must do 
    exactly that--freeze pay. Anything less is a budget gimmick that 
    creates only the illusion of savings.
      Last Congress I worked to stop budget loopholes like this in a bill I 
    introduced, the Honest Budget Act. Working with the Senate, I aimed to 
    enact changes that would bring more honesty and transparency to 
    budgeting process. I authored an amendment to H.R. 273 based on the 
    provisions of the Honest Budget Act, but unfortunately this chamber is 
    not able to consider it today under the closed procedural rule for H.R. 
    273. I intend to continue to pursue the issue later this year.
      Since I've been in Congress, we have fought to reduce excessive 
    spending to get our nation's deficits under control. We've enjoyed 
    successes, but we have also seen firsthand the tricks of trade--
    gimmicks used to distort the truth and hide new spending. Soon I will 
    be re-introducing the Honest Budget Act in the 113th Congress, and I 
    ask my colleagues to join me in this fight for honesty and 
    accountability in the budget.
      A budget is a plan for the future and a financial report to the 
    stockholders of the company--in this case, the American people. I am 
    convinced that we can do better in the future.
      Ms. BONAMICI. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 273 because 
    it once forces middle class workers to bear the burden of Congress's 
    inability to come together and solve our fiscal woes.
       This bill would result in a freeze on federal civilian employee pay 
    for a third consecutive year by repealing the modest 0.5 percent 
    increase scheduled to take effect next month. This miniscule raise 
    would be their first since 2010, despite the fact that inflation has 
    increased by 5.3 percent in that same time period.
       These federal employees are hard-working people who deserve to be 
    treated fairly for all they give in service to our constituents. They 
    are the hotshot crews that fight our wildfires every summer. They are 
    seismologists who will warn us about an approaching tsunami. They are 
    the inspectors who ensure the safety of our food supply. They are the 
    air traffic controllers who keep use safe when we fly. They are the VA 
    doctors and nurses who treat our war veterans. And they are the 
    officers who protect our borders, our airports, and our nuclear 
       At the same time, this bill asks nothing of the companies whose 
    government contracts may award hundreds of thousands of dollars in 
    salary per employee. And despite the protests of the bill's supporters, 
    it does nothing to freeze pay for Members of Congress--that pay freeze, 
    which I support, is already in effect.
       This bill is just another political game that does nothing to 
    meaningfully reduce spending or get our debt under control. I have said 
    it before and I'll say it again: We've been governing by crisis for far 
    too long. It's time to rally around common sense. It's time to take a 
    seat at the bargaining table. This bill will not get us there, and it's 
    time we all stop pretending that it will. I urge my colleagues to join 
    me in opposing H.R. 273.
      Mr. RUIZ. Mr. Speaker, today I had to make the difficult decision of 
    voting for a pay raise for myself or against continuing a pay freeze 
    for federal workers. I voted for H.R. 273 because although I believe it 
    is unfair to balance the budget on the backs of hard working middle-
    class families, I could not accept a pay raise for myself. I recognize 
    the critical contributions federal employees make every day to the 
    health and well-being of our country and I thank them for their 
    service. I am honored to serve the people of California's 36th 
    Congressional District and I will continue to work to do the right 
    thing for my district and to ensure that the American dream is 
    attainable for everyone.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for debate has expired.
      Pursuant to House Resolution 66, the previous question is ordered on 
    the bill.
      The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the bill.
      The bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, and was 
    read the third time.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the passage of the bill.
      The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
    the ayes appeared to have it.
      Mr. ISSA. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
      The yeas and nays were ordered.
      The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
    proceedings on this question will be postponed.

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