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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3835. This bill is yet another example of the Republican majority's desire to play political games instead of promoting commonsense legislative solutions to our Nation's problems.
Madam Speaker, I believe this is exactly the wrong time to raise salaries for me and my colleagues in Congress. We shouldn't get it. But I do not believe that millions of hardworking Federal employees should be punished. They already gave $5 billion with their salary freeze over the past two years.
One of my top priorities in Congress is protecting the rights of middle class families, which includes many millions of Federal workers. I have the utmost respect for the hard work and public service that Federal civilian employees perform each and every day, and I believe they deserve to be compensated fairly. Federal workers are not overpaid. Comparison studies show that for the educational level and job category, they are paid less than others. In fact, Federal workers with a professional or doctorate degree earn 23 percent less, on average, than their private sector counterparts. In order to attract the most talented men and women to Federal service, it is imperative that we offer competitive salaries and benefits. This legislation sends the wrong message to the millions of men and women who serve the American people. It tells them that we may value the work that they do on behalf of the American people, but not enough to compensate them fairly.
Madam Speaker, this bill is a game. It is not a serious attempt to address the deficit or debt. It is ``gotcha'' politics. Pay for Federal workers did not get us into a deficit--two unpaid wars, a prescription drug benefit, and several tax cuts for the rich blew a hole in the budget. But rather than address those root causes, the majority today is blaming hardworking Federal employees.
Madam Speaker, rather than this phony bill, I am a cosponsor of Ranking Member Van Hollen's legislation to extend the pay freeze for Members of Congress through 2013 without affecting the salaries of the men and women of our Federal workforce. Members of Congress should not get a pay increase this year. This is something we all agree on, Mr. Speaker. When the legislation to forego a cost of living pay raise in 2011 came before this body in April 2010, it passed by a vote of 402 to 15. Bring this bill to freeze Members' pay through 2013 to the floor and I will support it. So would most of our colleagues, I believe.
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