Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15th) voted today for H.R. 273, a measure to continue the current freeze on pay increases for federal employees for the remainder of the year. The measure received bipartisan support with 43 Democrats joining 218 Republicans to pass the bill. The final vote was 261 in favor and 154 opposed.
Congressman Dent has long been on record as supporting the Simpson-Bowles budget framework to achieve fiscal sustainability and that Commission's recommendations includes a three year freeze on pay raises for federal government workers. (See below.)
Maintaining the freeze will lead to $11 billion in savings over ten years.
"We must address Washington's spending problem," said Dent. "I am shocked when some people still say things like, "Well, but that's only a billion dollars a year, that doesn't mean anything.' You have to shake your head," Dent said.
"That's the exact attitude that has us running deficits over a trillion dollars a year. When does Washington begin to recognize how wrong it looks for legislators to increase the pay of federal government workers when wages in the private sector are stagnant?" asked Dent.
Federal workers continue to enjoy a significant pay advantage over their private sector counterparts. In 2010 the average wage for federal employees was $83,679 as compared to $51,986 for private sector workers.
H.R. 273 does not impact those serving in the military. Congress's pay rate continues to remain frozen.
The relevant position statement from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform -- Moment of Truth (Simpson-Bowles Commission):
1.10.3 Impose a three-year pay freeze on federal workers and Defense Department civilians. Out of duty and patriotism, hardworking federal employees provide a great service to this country. But in a time of budget shortfalls, all levels of government must trim back. In the recent recession, millions of private sector and state and municipal employees had their wages frozen or cut back, and millions more lost their jobs altogether. In contrast, federal workers' wages increase annually due to automatic formulas in law, providing them with cost-of-living-adjustments totaling more than five percent in the last two years. This proposal would institute a three year government-wide freeze on federal pay at every government agency, including the Department of Defense civilian workforce. This proposal will save $20.4 billion in 2015.