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Public Statements

To Extend the Pay Limitation for Members of Congress and Federal Employees

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DUFFY. I appreciate the gentleman from Florida for yielding.

I think it is important that we review the history of Federal employee pay freezes. In the last Congress, this came up under a Democrat-controlled House, a Democrat-controlled Senate, and a Democrat President. They voted for a 2-year payroll freeze for Federal employees. They rightly excluded our military, and I think everyone in this House agrees that our military should get a pay increase. But who they wrongly failed to include in the pay freeze were Members of Congress. They didn't include Members of Congress, but every other Federal worker they did include.

So now, today, I've brought a bill to the floor to extend the pay freeze for one more year. My bill is the exact same bill as the Democrats' bill from 2 years ago. The only difference is that I've carved in Members of Congress. Every Member in this House will have his pay frozen just like every other Federal worker's. That is the right thing to do. That's what should have been done 2 years ago but was not done.

I was here to listen to the gentleman from Maryland, the former majority leader, who is outraged that he doesn't have an opportunity to singly vote for a pay freeze for Members of Congress. Yet, as the majority leader, he had the opportunity to include Members of Congress in his bill. Republicans didn't have a say. It was a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, a Democrat President, and Members of Congress were not included. Now to come here today and to be outraged and say that the Republicans are disingenuous because we have carved in Members of Congress doesn't hold water.

I think it is important to also look at the facts behind Federal employees as they are compared to the private sector. The Congressional Budget Office came out and said that Federal employees make 16 percent more on average than those in the private sector. At this point, what my friends across the aisle have come to the House floor to say is, in a very difficult economy, we want the private sector, which is really the American taxpayer--the ones who have been forced to make concessions with regard to pay, the ones who have been asked to work less hours to keep their jobs--my friends across the aisle come to the House floor and say, what we want these American taxpayers to do is to not get a pay raise themselves, but to pay for a pay increase for Federal workers who already make 16 percent more than they do.

That doesn't make sense. I hear a lot of conversation from my friends across the aisle about fairness and parity. Well, I think you should start to use the term ``fairness'' today. There should be parity between the private sector and the public sector.

I come from central and northern Wisconsin, and we have a large manufacturing sector in the community in my district. Time and time again, there are rules, there are regulations, there is red tape, and there are taxes that attack our way of life that come from this town of Washington, that attack the way of life in Wisconsin. We bring it up. We talk about it. We complain about it. And guess what? My friends across the aisle turn a deaf ear to our complaints. But today we're going to do a 1-year extension of a Federal employee pay freeze, and they are outraged by that. They are listening, they are advocating, they are arguing for more Federal pay.

Come on. Use fairness today. Use the argument of parity today. This was your bill. This is a 1-year extension.

The final point: The President's debt commission, Simpson-Bowles, said we should have a 3-year freeze on Federal pay. That's what my bill does. I don't want the argument to be that my friends across the aisle don't really care about the Federal employee pay freeze and that they only care about their own pay freeze, because that is the only difference. The only difference in my bill is that I've included Members of Congress.

This makes sense. Let's come together. The American people are sick of the partisan bickering. They would expect that there are issues on the left and that there are issues on the right that this House could and should fight about, but I think they're sick of commonsense issues that come down in the middle that we should agree on. Let's get together. Let's pass this bill. Let's freeze Federal employees' salaries for one more year.

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