Congressman Seeks to Slash Federal Employee Salaries by 8.7 Percent
After a string of anti-federal employee pieces of legislation have been introduced at the start of the 114th Congress, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) may have established himself as the most anti-federal employee lawmaker on Capitol Hill. Congressman Rice’s recent legislation, the (inappropriately named) Promoting Accountability in Decisions for Progress Act, would cut the salaries for all federal employees making over $100,000 by 8.7 percent. Following the instant cut, federal employee pay adjustments would be directly tied to the U.S. median household income (which fell by eight percent from 2007-2013). This bill is one of the most anti-federal employee pieces of legislation introduced in recent years, and takes the mean-spirited cuts of radical members of Congress to a new low.
This ill-conceived legislation would decimate VA doctors and nurses, federal scientists working across numerous agencies and various other highly-specialized federal employees. Salaries would be violently slashed. Retirement-eligible employees would likely depart in droves. Workplace morale would plummet even lower. Agencies would be further restricted in their ability to recruit and retain top talent. In a word, Rep. Rice’s legislation would be disastrous.
The tying of pay adjustments of federal employees to the median household income of Americans is inappropriate because it amounts to comparing apples to oranges. The median household income is a result of countless factors facing the American household, and federal employees play a minimal role in that economic determination. As with the $100,000 salary threshold, this is an arbitrary and misguided measurement to use when equating federal workforce pay adjustments. If Rep. Rice is interested in delivering pay parity for federal employees, he should seek to close the 35 percent pay gap between federal employees and their private sector counterparts completing identical work.
While the introduction if Rep. Rice’s bill was introduced without much fanfare, NFFE did not let the introduction of this bill go without scrutiny. NFFE sounded the alarm shortly after this bill was introduced, and Congressman Rice was clearly unprepared. In an interview with Federal News Radio, Rep. Rice repeatedly demonstrated his lack of understanding for federal workforce oversight, citing EPA regulations that negatively impact businesses as the rationale for cutting the salaries for VA doctors and nurses. Additionally, the Congressman flatly disregarded the concern that retiree-eligible employees would retire to avoid seeing their retirement benefits slashed by this bill.
“Congressman Rice’s bill is one of the most aggressively anti-federal employee bills introduced in recent history,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “On average, federal employees make 35 percent less than private sector employees performing similar jobs. There is no defensible reason to further expand the pay disparity between federal and private sector employees. The fact is that the highest paid federal employees tend to be the most underpaid when compared to their private-sector counterparts. Recruiting and retaining top talent into the federal government is already difficult enough, but this bureaucratic overreach by Congressman Rice would severely hamper agencies’ ability to accomplish their missions. This bill is mean-spirited, short-sighted and fundamentally un-American. NFFE will vigorously oppose this legislation.”