Opposition Grows to Congressional Pay Raise

By on December 31, 2012 in Current Events, Pay & Benefits with 54 Comments

Opposition to the 0.5% pay increase scheduled to be given to members of Congress is growing. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) has already gone on the record against it, and now Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced legislation to block the pay increase.

The legislation in what is now a bipartisan effort to stop the pay increase was introduced by Bachmann and Fitzpatrick December 31. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) also introduced legislation that would freeze pay for members of Congress for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

In a statement, Bachmann said, “I am calling on my colleagues in the House and Senate to rescind President Obama’s executive order that gives members of Congress a pay raise. This executive order was not requested by Congress and we should reject it. We have a spending problem in our country and we should be looking for areas to cut spending. At a time when families across the country are cutting back we should not increase government spending and add to the debt burden by giving members of Congress a pay raise. We need to begin with ourselves and I urge my colleagues to join me in this effort.”

Fitzpatrick added, “Lifting the pay freeze for Members of Congress at a time when we are working to restore fiscal health to the federal government is unacceptable, and I will work to prevent it. For the past four years, many private sector workers have seen their salaries reduced and small businesses have tightened their belts to ensure our economy remains afloat in these difficult times. Families are making sacrifices to make ends meet, and Congress must follow their lead.”

Update: At least three Senators have jumped in with support to block a Congressional pay raise. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voiced opposition to the pay increase. Murkowski Tweeted, “I oppose this proposed pay raise for myself or any member of Congress & I will work to prevent this raise from going into effect in April.”

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) added, “At a time when our country is facing record debt and trillion dollar deficits, the last thing Washington should do is reward itself with a pay increase. I am calling on President Obama to withdraw his recent Executive Order raising federal salaries — including for Members of Congress. Until a long-term deficit reduction agreement is reached, we should not consider increasing the pay for Congress.”

Fitzpatrick also sent a letter to President Obama asking him to reconsider the executive order he issued. The full text of the letter follows below.

Dear President Obama,

I write to express my serious concern regarding the Executive Order issued on December 27, 2012 rescinding the Federal pay freeze effective on March 27th, 2013.

Lifting the federal pay freeze as we struggle to solve the government’s spending problem does not strike me or my constituents as a prudent choice to put our country back on the right track.

For the past four years, many private workers have seen their salaries reduced. As small businesses have tightened their belts, their sacrifices have kept our economy afloat in these tough times. Families are doing their best to make ends meet.

According to a study conducted by USA Today in March of 2010, the average Federal worker earns 20% more than a private worker in a similar occupation. When Federal benefits are taken into account, the rate of disparity is even wider.

Furthermore, research conducted by my office revealed in October of 2012 that the Philadelphia Regional Veterans Benefits Administration paid over $1.4M of bonuses over the past three years, despite failing to meet their own processing goal 54% of the time. Additionally, considering that my office is trying to fix nearly 300 botched claims, their quality leaves much to be desired. The Philadelphia VBA is failing our veterans; yet these Federal employees continued to receive bonuses for poor results while getting paid significantly more than their private sector counterparts.

While there are countless Federal employees like our military who serve our nation well and should have their pay freeze reexamined, the misalignment of many Federal salaries compared to the private sector is yet another example of government spending focused on the wrong priorities.

I urge you to reconsider your Executive Order. In the meantime, I will work to pass legislation that will rescind the effects of your order on Members of Congress.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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  1. AmericanBGirl says:

    I think its hillarious that congress is speaking out about a 0.5% pay raise that will be granted to them by an executive order and include all federal workers with them to take a stand against it.  Lets see, don’t need the o.5% raise because we get $20,000 under the table for each porker. Yea let’s make it look good for the public make the president look real bad this time. Well congress you are right you really don’t need the 0.5% pay raise and the president should not have even considered putting you in the executive order. DUH!

    It’s just good to use common since when listening to politics.

  2. Paticat7 says:

    As an HR Specialist, it continues to amaze me to see Quality Step increases given to GS 14’s and 15’s in an effort to get their salary up before retirement. I can’t understand how they get them, but their employees never seem to. I also see disparity in awards, with 14’s and 15’s getting 2% while their employees if lucky enough to get one, get the 1% as mandated. I can see freezing pay completely on the higher earners, but trying to support a family on lower grades (and yes, they have degrees as well) is becoming harder and harder. Someone making $33,000 will see an increase of $165 with the March pay increase, but someone making $155,000 will see $775…who really needs that money more? Congress does not deserve a pay raise for not doing their job…

  3. GCScorpio says:

    Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:”I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You justpass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligiblefor re-election.The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds)took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! 
    The people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, 
    cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year
    or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

    Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to
    a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask
    each of those to do likewise.

    In three days, most people in The United States of America will
    have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed

    Congressional Reform Act of 2012 

    1. No Tenure / No Pension.

    A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
    pay when they’re out of office.

    2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the
    Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into
    the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the
    American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

    3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
    Americans do.

    4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
    Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    5. Congress loses their current health care system and
    participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
    American people.

    7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void

  4. NoMoreBickering says:

    And why are we getting our nickers in bunch over a misleading statistical report that has been propogated through the various news media for years now?  The whole point of the article is being missed.  I give credit to those congressmen and women who are trying to do the right thing (at least in this instance); they should not be getting a raise under the current circumstances and especially since they haven’t effectively done their jobs in several years.

  5. T/Q Specialist says:

    I am a retired Navy vet, I currently am employed with the GVT as a Technical and Quality specialist.
    My wife worked for Boeing Aerospace for a number of years and said that if I were to have went to work for them I would now be making well over 6 figures.  I do not regret my choices and I really like working in continued support of our troops, I think where the issue lie’s is when a GVT employee gets a raise in a percentage of his base salery (which may be only $.50/hour to me) it is excessive to the elected officials.  For example, a congressman gets (lets say for sake of argument) $150,000/year and we, the grunts, in support of the military, get $45,000 and congress gives all GVT employees a 2.0% pay raise, I get $900.00 more per year or $ .43/hour, where our elected officials would get $3000.00 or $1.44/hour raise.  THere needs to be a ratio system of some sort in place, these officials dont pay alot of extra expenses we do and get better benifits.
    Being an elected official is a privilege.

  6. Interesting says:

    That letter from a hypocrite who votes for his & other congressional pay raises each year.  Needless to say, they are so rich, they don’t even know about “tightnening their belts.”  INTERESTING:  You didn’t see these same congressional hypocrites talk about how much LESS the federal workers made when the private sector is/was prospering. 

  7. Shemp Hpward says:

       Congress does not deserve a pay raise.   Many Congressmen and women are millionaires to begin with.  The President’s performance over the past few days-playing golf in Hawaii instead of staying in Washington-is disappointing in my opinion.  Congress was no better-seems like they’re on vacation even when they’re on the hill.

         The Senior Executive Service is nothing than a haven for the politically well-connected.  If you are perceived to have a different political bent, you are discriminated against.  Nepotism is rampant. 

       The late Larry Burkett once said, “We have an Imperial Congress.”   He said that back in the early 1990s.

       Why is Obama giving Congress a raise?  Is he trying to bribe them-to win them over to his side? 

       Just my two cents.

  8. $15300432 says:

    The House and Senate should pass a bill to rescind the raise for all federal employees. There is no justification for it since its not based on merit only attendance

  9. Kathy says:

    What an awful time to give Congress an increase in pay.  Seems like bribery on the part of the President, to get the job done his way.  And, you can exclude VA nurses from the Federal workforce making 20% more than the private sector. Absolutely NOT true!! What is it that makes members of Congress worth SO much money and exempt from the rest of the Federal workers.  Exempt from everything from healthcare to retirement benefits.  How can we stop this??!!! Those folks are contributing to breaking the bank!!

  10. A Guest says:

     What a bunch of crock! The people who shouldn’t get paid anything period… is Congress!

    Congress didn’t do any work except waste valueable time trying to get the President out of office; blamed Feds as their scape-goats for their policy failures and sucker the public into believing they are working on their behalf.  Congress only seem to care about their rich friends and they are in it to make money for themselves!   To make matters worst they gave their allegence to a guy who wasn’t even elected by the American people.   Their loyality is suppose to be with the People and not that dude!  Congress owes the American public a refund of their salaies because they sure didn’ earn it!

  11. dab51 says:

    Congress should NOT be given a raise unless ALL Government workers are given a raise!!!

    To do so would tell Government employees that the rest of us don’t count.

    • $15300432 says:

      You don’t

      • Walt8547 says:

        Onedonewong, you are a complete lost cause! I shouldn’t even waste another word on someone who is so far out of touch, but I am almost willing to bet you take advantage of every free government program there is, but knock the people who’s taxes cover your tail. All govt workers are tax payers. Do you think the economy would miss the taxes all govt employees pay? You bet it would. The economy would also miss the amount of taxes paid in to the general fund if every govt worker paid the same per centage in taxes as the Romney class pays!!

  12. dab51 says:

    Congress should NOT be granted a raise if Government workers as a whole are not getting one!!!

    To do so implies that Congress is better than anyone else.

  13. Mpenny389 says:

    Pay should have been tied to performance & balanced budget 20 years ago!  Pay attention, Americans.  We get the kind of government we deserve.

  14. ed137 says:

    I will gladly give up the relatively worthless 0.5% to keep the POS politicians from getting a raise that they DO NOT deserve!

  15. miramar3 says:

    Withhold it from republicans.  Democrats have tried hard to do their jobs.

  16. wallstreeters says:

    wallstreeters always get raises

    • OldRet says:

      then go get a job on wall street. It’s as simple as that!!!

      • wallstreeters says:

        sorry-I am not a crook

        • $15300432 says:

          If you draw a federal paycheck you are

          • Walt8547 says:

            Onedonewong, I can’t believe you think you have a clue! I worked the private sector most of my life, and the last 9 years as a fed employee. I made more in the private sector then with the feds. Benefits included. And as a fed employee nor in the private sectord, I never had to back up to get my paycheck because I worked for everything I was paid. With your attitude, I would like to know what type of work you do and bet you wouldn’t have even come close to being able to do the work my crew and I did. I sure as hell am not a crook, but you sound like a good one.

          • A Guest says:

            This is how onedonewong -aka- LazyFed/LasyCS gets his jollies.   He insults and lies about Federal employees 99% of the time (he likes % a lot). 

            What’s so ironic is that he’s a retired military dude who makes references to the 70’s a lot.   He’s gets govt money just like the rest of the Federal workforce, only now he’s home enjoying bashing Feds and insulting us every chance he gets.   According to him none of us Feds do anything right, yet he gets to reap many benefits that dedicated Feds put their heart and soul into their work each day.  Who knows perhaps all that meaness is what helps get him through his day.

  17. Donald55 says:

    What a pompous hypocrite. I am a retired Assistant Fire Chief with the Federal government and my retired counterpart with the city makes $40,000 more than I do in retirement.  I have 35 years in service and my counterpart is retired with only 25 years of service. My work week consisted of 72 hours. My retired counterpart worked only 56 hours a week. My counterpart does not have to pay for health benefits. In the future, please get your facts straight before you speak about all Federal employees. Don’t believe everything you read in The USA Today and The Heritage Foundation! They are misleading the facts and doing a general disservice to the Federal employee and American public.

    • tim says:

      So you base your facts on one person vs. what you receive? That makes the author a hypocrite? How so? I am federal employee and know full well we are not currently in position to give me a raise. We are up to our eyeballs in debt and, admittedly, this is not the fault of employees but certainly not the fault of taxpayers. We have it better than most. Admit it! Do the American public a service and admit it! Be honest!!

      • Pat Fucile says:

        I hear you there.   For my agency, a financial analyst will make between 50K and 65K, that 65k is if they are step 10.   The average salary for a financial analyst in the private sector in my area is 65K  , and that is 10% lower than the nationwide average.    So even if the financial analyst for the federal government is at the very top of their pay scale, they still be only getting what the average financial analyst is receiving in the private sector.    

      • Donald55 says:

        Tim: ??????????????????? You have to be kidding!

      • LaborAttorney says:

        Not the fault of the taxpayers????  Then, whose fault is it?   Of course it’s the fault of the taxpayers.  They demand low taxes and high services and will vote out those who don’t comply.  

        • burgerchecker says:

          I noticed you’re not including the roughly half of the population that pays NO federal income tax yet consumes the vast majority of government handouts; do you think they might have something to do with it, or is it just the top 10% who pay 70% of total federal tax revenues that is the problem. Maybe everyone should start to have “skin in the game” as our president once quipped…just a suggestion.

        • burgerchecker says:

          Or how about the bottom 47  percent of the population who pay NO federal income tax but demand a vast majority of milk from the government teet in entitlements. Is it government spending or “revenue collection” i.e. taxing that’s the problem? It seems to me it’s those people who helped vote in a president who did comply with their wishes of not having any “skin in the game”…

          • RETVET03 says:

            Ah yes, this figure always comes out; different person; different screenname…no matter how many times that figure is properly refuted, it is parroted out.  Your “47 percent” is that percentage of people who after deductions would have no tax liability.  That would be: working families making at or near poverty level, seniors, disabled people…those groups make up most of that “47 percent” you talk about.  Of course they still pay into Medicare and Social Security.  In many cases they still pay State taxes, property taxes, sales taxes.  No doubt that SS and Medicare probably exceed by 2 times any marginal tax rate they would have without deductions.  On the other hand, the wealthy benefit from the regressive Social Security tax; it is capped at just over 100K so for people like Romney SS tax is maybe a .01 percent tax rate, while it’s well over 10 percent for the vast majority of us.  So your idea that they don’t have “skin” in the game is ludacris.  What the 47 percent really says is that our middle class is being destroyed; what a pitiful state compensation has become.  Class warfare?  You bet…and the rich are winning.

          • burgerchecker says:

            Thanks for making my point. Why is it you bring up state, property and sales taxes when I didn’t mention them once? “Ofcourse they pay into Medicare and Social Security”…I hope so they’ll be using it. My argument was federal income taxes  and while the 47’s do pay throughout the year through payroll, in march or april they get a check back from the gubment that is MORE than what they payed in. Thats not something I’m just” parroting” or anything you can “refute” – it’s fact.  When it comes to federal income tax, the 47’s DO NOT have skin in the game. Sorry, but those aren’t my numbers. I believe it’s the same CBO numbers that also claim the top 10% pay 70% of the total federal income tax revenues. Class warfare? You bet…and the dems are winning on promising something for nothing.

          • RETVET03 says:

            The 47 percent myth has been debunked ad naseum.  There’s two ways to be part of the 47 percent:  #1 BE POOR: Make about 20K or less per year.  #2 BE ELDERLY:  Seniors exclusively on SS will pay little or no tax because SS payments are not considered income.  Now you’d probably notice that means about half the working adults in this country make less than 22K.

            Now there are about 6000 or so millionaires who pay no taxes, so they would be part of that 47 percent….maybe a fraction of a percent.  Mostly people who make money off from capital gains.

            So yes, it’s parroting for the pundits who keep putting the 47 percent lie out there…and they know it’s a lie but since the EIB network and FoxNews are all about one way communication…there’s no accountability for their statements.  Too bad Romney couldn’t figure that out before he repeated the nonsense. They say it..and people like you repeat it. They don’t worry that it’s not truthful; they just know you will repeat it without actually thinking about what the number actually means.

            And why bring up “state, property and sales taxes”?  Well obviously they are deductions from pay.  What you’re saying they don’t count?  I mean…really?

        • $15300432 says:

          The only folks demanding it are the 47% who don’t pay any taxes and are the Dem base. Time for everyone’s taxes to go up and federal pay to freeze until the private sector wages are in line that may take 20 years but so be it

      • A Guest says:

        Then turn down any raises and cost-of-living funds offered to you.  It can be done and you don’t have to accept any of it.  Please don’t speak for the other Feds, because you don’t live their lifes.

        • $15300432 says:

          Feds don’t get COLA’s its only for retirees

          • A Guest says:

            I’m aware of that…. especially YOU can turn down any more money being given to you by the government since you don’t seem to need it.  Bet you haven’t turned down a dime from your retirement.   My comment went to those Feds working and the those who are retired.   Don’t like it… give the money back it back to the govt.

      • CIAdude says:

         Tim, Im sure you’re one of those feds who will never survive in the private sector. You are making too much money in the government and if you go to the private sector you will make half of what you’re doing right now. No wonder you’re drinking the Reps KoolAid. You’re one of those that say “Oh thank you master, thank you for giving me this job, I’m not worthy of it”.  You’re like “make me pay for everything and put me in misery as long as you guys dont touch Donald Trump’s or Romney’s tax rate”.

        • $15300432 says:

          Gosh why don’t you look outside to the private sector. There is a huge demand out their for folks who are unaccountable, work 20 hour work weeks and are making $130,000 a year

    • Pat Fucile says:

       Donald, while I understand where you are coming from, I do have to point out a couple of things.   I’m assuming you are talking about Fitzpatrick’s comment above.  He never said all federal employees.    Also, your comparison used a city government employee.   Fitzpatrick’s was a comparison to those people who do not work for any level of government.   I don’t know of any private sector fire officials, but that is what you’d have to use if you were making the same type of comparison.      What I object to in the “federal employees make so much more” diatribe is that they do not take into account that the average federal salary is raised because the political appointees salaries are included in the data used to create the average.     They also don’t take into account that a lot more federal employees have one or more degrees.  Noe does the diatribe take into account that we don’t have any low level, low pay jobs because those were privatized under Bush and those people are contractors, hence they are not federal employees and dropped from the data used.  

    • HRGuy71 says:

      Your article implies should have had the same pay and benefits in some city which which you may be living.

      For what it is worth, many of our cities, counties and a few of the more free-spending states are going broke fast. In many cases, they are already essentially bankrupt.  They are even worse off than our free-spending federal government. The unions and politicians seeking votes put in salaries and raises in many areas that were destined to lead to fewer services and, ultimately, bankruptcy as there were no controls over either the unions or elected officials. They should not have been paying those salaries at the local level (more than $300,000 in some California cities) and the federal government should not be paying salaries at those levels either. 

      We are clearly becoming Greece or Spain and, in fact, our per person debt is already much higher than it is in Greece despite having a much larger population. Moreover, the per person debt is only based on the federal deficit and does not count the outrageous debts incurred by many at the local level.

      We should be thankful for a decent salary, benefits much better than most American taxpayers, and a secure employment. I would prefer to see my colleagues express thanks for what we have  instead of griping about we don’t get enough from the public purse.

      • RETVET03 says:

        You go ahead and “express thanks” for your job, since evidently you feel your job is a gift.  Many of your colleagues don’t feel the same way.  And you might dispense with the ridiculous strawman arguments…

    • Cher says:

      I agree, I am a federal employee and make less than the private sector does.  I don’t even make enough to live on, (under $33,000 annually).  I am so tired of people thinking federal employees make a lot of money.

      • $15300432 says:

        The minimum wage is $7.50 an hour so you make than twice what the avg private sector earns with the same skill level

    • Fyermn says:

       Donald, I also am a retired Federal Fireman( Captain) with the Federal government.  My brother is a retired Fireman( Captain) with the City (the same one I was a federal fireman in).  He worked one more year than I did, and his retirement is TWICE of that of mine ( plus he had the DROP program).  His work week was 52 hrs, compared to mine of 72 hrs, just like you.  I am very glad that I have my retirement from the Gov’t, especially in these economic times.  From what I am reading, it sounds as if you are complaining about your retirement.  As an AC, I know your retirement is a lot more than I get, but we all made choices when we took the job.  

    • $15300432 says:

      There is 1 difference the guy from the city put out fires and I can guarantee that you NEVER put out a fire in 30 years

    • Danl_P says:

      Overpaid local government officials do not constitute a reason to overpay federal employees. Several cities (donald’s probably) have filed bankrupcy because of this stupidity.