House to vote on federal pay freeze extension

Tuesday - 1/31/2012, 8:36am EST

(Updated: 7:00 p.m., Jan. 31)

The House is scheduled to vote on a bill Wednesday to extend the federal civilian pay freeze another year — through 2013.

The proposal by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) would also freeze the pay of members of Congress.

"As American families and businesses have been forced to tighten their belts, Washington has refused to do the same," Duffy said in a statement. "Congress must be willing to make the same sacrifices we're asking of others, that's why I introduced this bill. We must act now to extend the pay freeze on federal workers and on members' salaries until Washington finally gets its finances under control."

The bill would also bar cost-of-living adjustments through the end of 2013.

The Senate is unlikely to approve the bill, and the administration has called for an end to the federal pay freeze and has included a 0.5 percent pay raise for feds as part of its 2013 budget proposal. The White House will release its full budget proposal in February.

The vote on the pay freeze extension comes just days after the release of a Congressional Budget Office report comparing federal and private sector pay. The report broke down average wages by education level, finding that federal workers with no more than a high school education made 21 percent more than their private sector counterparts, but feds with a professional degree or doctorate actually made 23 percent less. Federal workers with at most a bachelor's degree made about the same in wages as private-sector workers.

The measure also puts lawmakers in an awkward spot, because it links pay for both congressional and rank-and-file federal together.

The bill "puts lawmakers who support federal employees in the untenable position of having to choose between freezing federal employee wages or voting to increase their own congressional salaries," said American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage in a statement.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who called Duffy's proposal an "unfair targeting" of federal employees, said he would introduce an alternative bill freezing congressional pay only.

"House Republicans are trying to use congressional pay as a political weapon to force a pay cut for federal employees," he said in a statement.

The National Treasury Employees Union dismissed the measure as a "political ploy."

"While many in Congress are bending over backwards to protect billionaires and millionaires, they continue to attack hard-working, dedicated frontline employees who guard our borders, protect our air and water, safeguard our food and drug supplies, keep watch over our retirement, assist our veterans and so much more," NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in an emailed statement.

(Jack Moore contributed to this report)

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