Is President Trump having second thoughts about his announcement that he wants a pay freeze for federal employees in 2019?
At an event in Charlotte, North Carolina today, he made the following statement which can also be seen in the video above (it begins at the 2 minute mark):
As we head into Labor Day, our nation pays its gratitude to the hard-working men and women who make our country run, and I’m going to be doing a little work over the weekend. I’m going to be studying the federal workers in Washington that you’ve been reading so much about. People don’t want to give them any [pay] increase; they haven’t had one in a long time. I said I’m gonna study that over the weekend. It’s a good time to study it – Labor Day – let’s see how they do next week. But a lot of people were against it; I’m going to take a good, hard look over the weekend.
Trump sent a letter to Congress yesterday in which he reiterated a proposal from the White House’s budget blueprint released early this year to freeze pay for federal employees in 2019.
The announcement was met with an immediate backlash from federal employee unions, advocacy groups, and some in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. These are just a couple of statements made about the proposed pay freeze:
I oppose the proposed freeze on federal employee pay and I sent the following letter to the President this morning about the issue. https://t.co/Cd6ckEFK6F #VA10 pic.twitter.com/G9lXFaBLt6
— Barbara Comstock (@RepComstock) August 31, 2018
Federal workers endured 8 years of hell under Obama, with several rounds of pay freezes and benefit cuts. @realDonaldTrump can fix this, and I trust that he will. https://t.co/70mgZSRIKd
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) September 1, 2018
President Trump is trying to freeze pay for civilian workers, like those whose work is critical at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard base, in order to pay for his tax giveaways to corporate special interests. This cannot stand.
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) August 31, 2018
Thanks to our economic growth agenda, wages are rising across the board. We’ve cut taxes and removed barriers to success for small business owners and workers all over America. We shouldn’t be shortchanging federal employees, including those at ICE & CBP keeping us safe.
— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) August 31, 2018
The topic generated a strong response from FedSmith readers as well. The article with the announcement of the pay freeze has hundreds of comments so far with more people continuing to weigh in.
Pay Raise or Pay Freeze?
Although the White House has been pushing a pay freeze for next year, the Senate approved a 1.9% pay raise in a spending bill. If the House were to adopt this and the spending bill were to then be signed into law by the president, it would override the pay freeze proposal made this week.
Under current law, Congress can take action to set the federal pay raise (or lack thereof) for the coming year, but more often than not, the president sets it and Congress remains silent on the issue. This is the first year in quite some time that we have seen a break in this usual pattern.
It’s unclear what, if anything, President Trump may do. Is he having second thoughts about a pay freeze? Will he push for a raise for federal employees next week? If so, how much?
Nobody knows right now, but we will continue to keep you updated as any additional information becomes available.