Senator’s Amendment to Freeze Federal Pay Fails; More Attempts Likely to Come
Thursday, the Senate rejected an amendment to the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which sought to freeze federal employee pay, eliminate bonuses, and cap the size of the federal workforce. Introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD), the amendment was defeated in a 57-41 party line vote.
Speaking in opposition to the measure on the Senate floor, Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) derided the Republican Senator’s use of federal workers as a scapegoat.
“Over the years, as I’ve witnessed countless acts of personal courage, devotion to country, and real sacrifice, I have also seen and heard such disheartening and baseless attacks against those who choose to serve,” said Kaufman. “Federal employees continue to serve unfortunately to some as a convenient scapegoat. At a moment when we are faced with a difficult choice about how to reduce our deficit and get our economy moving again, this amendment represents an easy cop-out.”
Though soundly defeated when the time came for a vote, this amendment is just the latest in a number of recent attempts by some in Congress to diminish federal employee compensation. In late May, a similar measure proposed by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was voted down when she attempted to attach it to the annual Defense appropriations bill. That same week, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) wrote up their own proposal that would have frozen federal employee pay and bonuses. This was also defeated, but only by a thin margin of 53-45.
In response to these baseless attacks against America’s federal workers, NFFE National President William R. Dougan issued a letter to every member of Congress, urging them to fight back.
“An across the board pay freeze in the federal government would be very damaging to the efficiency of federal agencies and the service they provide to the American people,” said Dougan. “If we wish to recruit and retain the best doctors and nurses to care for our veterans, the best mechanics to armor the humvees our brave soldiers rely on, or the best scientists to research cures for cancer, then we must honor them with the pay adjustment they have earned.”
Though each of the three attempts have failed thus far, history tell us there is likely to be more measures like them between now and November.
“Some in Congress are very determined cut federal employees pay and to start cutting federal jobs even though this will be a disaster for federal agencies,” said Legislative Director Randy Erwin. “This issue is not going away. We are going to be fighting this every day until November elections and beyond. Every federal employee needs to let their elected officials in Washington know that federal employees are dedicated public servants that deserve every penny they earn. We know that’s the truth, but we can’t let those in Washington forget it.”