Proposed Legislation Would Temporarily End Step Increases

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) has introduced legislation that would prohibit step increases for federal employees through the end of 2012. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) has introduced legislation that would prohibit step increases for federal employees through the end of 2012.

The legislation follows on the heels of the House proposal to extend the pay freeze for another year and a proposal in the Senate to freeze federal employees’ pay for another two years.

In addition to prohibiting periodic step increases, it would also bar an agency from granting additional step increases for the remainder of 2012.

The proposal is part of the Honest Budget Act (HR 3844), a bill intended to restore accountability and transparency to the federal budgeting process.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) introduced similar legislation (S 1651) in the Senate which would also prohibit step increases through 2012.

Speaking on the House floor about the legislation, Roby said, “My legislation is designed to root out the budget gimmicks most commonly used by politicians to hide the truth, confuse the public, and run up the national debt. The American people deserve a budget system that is accountable, predictable, and real. Regardless of party, Congress and the Administration have not always been up-front with their numbers. It is important that we instill integrity back to our budget. The President is expected to present Congress with his budget for Fiscal Year 2013. We have a responsibility to our constituents to ensure that the final budget is accurate and any savings included are real savings.”

Critics of the pay freeze in the past have pointed out that despite a freeze on pay, many federal employees would still receive pay raises via step increases or promotions, thus making a pay freeze a disingenuous plan.

For instance, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said in December 2010 after the President proposed the pay freeze that it was “full of holes” because billions would be paid out in step increases even with a freeze. “The reality is, it’s going to be more expensive to taxpayers than it was before,” Chaffetz said. “If it costs more money, it isn’t a freeze.”

Chaffetz was referring to estimates at the time which indicated that 1.1 million employees would receive more than $2.5 billion in pay raises even under the two year pay freeze. He also said that Congress should pass legislation temporarily canceling step increases.

This could end up becoming a reality if either of these proposed bills gets signed into law, and arguments such as what Chaffetz made are presumably the impetus behind the proposition.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.