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Stephen L.
Democrat MA 8

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  • Elimination of 2013 Pay Adjustment

    by Representative Stephen F. Lynch

    Posted on 2013-02-15

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    LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Maryland for yielding.

    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.

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