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U.S. House approves 2.6% raise for federal employees

McMorris Rodgers was the only Washington representative who voted ‘no’


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 31, 2019) — Not only did President Donald Trump use the federal workforce as pawns in his 35-day government shutdown that ended last Friday, he issued an executive order over the holidays freezing their pay in 2019 and nixing a 2.1 percent pay increase that was set to take effect on Jan. 1. But Congress can override that pay freeze at any time.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a 2.6-percent raise for civilian federal employees, in what Democrats described as both a necessity and a gesture of appreciation for federal employees and their families who have suffered extreme hardship during the shutdown. The 2.6-percent raise matches was was approved last year for military personnel in a 2019.

The vote was 259-161 with all Democrats and 29 Republicans voting to approve the raises and 161 Republicans voting against the pay increase. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) and Dan Newhouse (R-4th) joined Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck in voting in favor of the raises. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) was the only Washington representative who voted “no.”

“This is not only deserved, but it’s also symbolically important,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), the sponsor of the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act. “After the shutdown, it’s imperative that this body make a statement to the civilian workforce that it is respected, that their work does have dignity, and we recognize that.”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Washington Post that no decisions have been announced on when or how that chamber might take up a civilian pay raise.

House Republicans who voted “no” on Wednesday criticized the bill for not having gotten a committee hearing or markup or a full fiscal cost analysis.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Do you know what other bill didn’t get a committee hearing or markup or a full fiscal cost analysis? The Republicans’ major rewrite of the U.S. tax code in ways that permanently benefit corporations and the wealthy, while raising taxes on most Americans. Unlike this bill increasing federal workers’ pay, that tax giveaway was rammed through on strict party-line votes.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued a statement in support of the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act:

“Our country is just starting to recover from a politically motivated government shutdown that left 40 percent of the federal workforce – 800,000 civil servants nationwide – without any income for an unprecedented 35 days.

“Employees are still waiting for their backpay, and many will never fully recover from having to take out high-interest loans, borrow against their retirement accounts, or incur financial penalties for missed payments.

“Even before this shutdown, federal workers had endured years of financial uncertainty and strain due to pay and hiring freezes, pension cuts, unpaid furloughs, and other government shutdowns. Federal employees earn nearly 5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade, incurring over $200 billion in cuts to their pay and benefits since 2011.

“Months before the shutdown began, President Trump announced he was denying federal workers a pay raise in 2019, even while approving a 2.6 percent raise for members of the military – rejecting a long-held principle of providing equal pay raises to military and civilian workers.

“This pay raise is long overdue, and I call on all members of Congress to support this bill and demonstrate their commitment to the 2.1 million dedicated federal workers who keep our government running every day by providing all workers with a 2.6 percent raise.”

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