Bill would freeze agency hiring until deficit disappears

Friday - 5/6/2011, 3:06pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Rep. Tom Marino wants to freeze hiring across the government until the deficit has been knocked out.

The freshman Pennsylvania Republican introduced the Federal Hiring Freeze Act of 2011 on Thursday. The bill, however, would not freeze all of government from meeting hiring needs.

The legislation would exempt from the freeze:

  • U.S. Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission
  • Federal law-enforcement positions
  • Reassignment of personnel within the same agency
  • Short-term, seasonal hiring
  • Transitional positions involving a new presidential administration

"The time for talk is over; now is the time for action," Marino said in a release. "We must stick to the trifecta of downsizing Washington, cutting spending, and keeping taxes low. If we do, we will see extraordinary results."

Marino's bill becomes another in a growing list of legislative proposals aimed at federal workers. There are at least three other bills that would either freeze the federal workforce or cut it, or require furloughs.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry told Federal News Radio earlier this week that the size of the government is smaller than it was under President Lyndon Johnson.

And House Republican and Democrats also sparred at a recent hearing about the size of the federal workforce.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said at the hearing in March that the Republican claims that the federal workforce grew by 157,000 employees over the last three years doesn't tell the entire story. Lynch said agencies also lost more than 616,000 employees during the same time frame.

Marino said the 2.7 million executive branch workforce still is too big.

His bill would go into effect for the first fiscal year after its passage and would terminate when the Office of Management and Budget determines that there is no longer an annual federal budget deficit.

The Federal Hiring Freeze Act of 2011 would require the President to provide quarterly reports to Congress describing all appointments made during that three-month period.

"This is all about accountability," Marino said. "This would require the executive branch to show us that it is abiding by the provisions of the law and force it to be accountable to Congress, and more importantly, to the citizens of the United States."

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