Mrs. ROBY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 273, a bill that would prevent the President's pay hike for federal workers and Members of Congress.
H.R. 273 is a good bill that deserves our support. In a time of historic budget difficulty, the bill rightly seeks to limit federal spending on the government workforce. The bill also recognizes what the American People know to be true: too many private sector employees remain without work during this protracted period of high unemployment. I will vote in support of H.R. 273 later today.
While this legislation is a step in the right direction, we should go further to prevent excessive spending by also suspending the automatic step increases that federal employees will continue to receive even if H.R. 273 is enacted into law.
I have been disappointed that over the past two years of the President's so-called ``freeze'' on federal pay, federal employees have continued to receive step increases. According to the Office of Personnel Management, these increases have resulted in a median pay increase of approximately $3,164 per federal employee--all during the so-called pay freeze.
These step increases are not based on merit, and there are serious flaws with this system. For example, all employees in the Government Service pay plan who completed their ``waiting period'' received a three percent raise in pay during this period.
Mr. Speaker, do private sector workers receive a three percent salary increase for simply completing a ``waiting period?''
No, of course not.
During this time, salaries in the private sector only increased by $1,404, less than half of what federal salaries gained on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If the President is going to say he is freezing pay, he must do exactly that--freeze pay. Anything less is a budget gimmick that creates only the illusion of savings.
Last Congress I worked to stop budget loopholes like this in a bill I introduced, the Honest Budget Act. Working with the Senate, I aimed to enact changes that would bring more honesty and transparency to budgeting process. I authored an amendment to H.R. 273 based on the provisions of the Honest Budget Act, but unfortunately this chamber is not able to consider it today under the closed procedural rule for H.R. 273. I intend to continue to pursue the issue later this year.
Since I've been in Congress, we have fought to reduce excessive spending to get our nation's deficits under control. We've enjoyed successes, but we have also seen firsthand the tricks of trade--gimmicks used to distort the truth and hide new spending. Soon I will be re-introducing the Honest Budget Act in the 113th Congress, and I ask my colleagues to join me in this fight for honesty and accountability in the budget.
A budget is a plan for the future and a financial report to the stockholders of the company--in this case, the American people. I am convinced that we can do better in the future.