Providing for Consideration of H.R. 273, Elimination of 2013 Pay Adjustment, and for Other Purposes

Floor Speech

By:  Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Date: Feb. 14, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, we need a balanced approach to reducing our deficit which makes responsible cuts while also raising revenue. This bill is not the way to do it.

I have great respect for the gentleman's intellect, but this is one of the dumbest bills I've ever seen come to this floor.

Let's take a look at it, Mr. Speaker. I rise in strong opposition to this rule and the underlying bill.

As part of the fiscal cliff deal, we promised Federal employees that they would see their first pay raise in over 2 years on March 27. This is a modest pay adjustment, half a percent. When you say $10 billion, you're talking about $1 billion a year.

Now, a little more than a month before the increase takes effect, the bill before us today would break that promise. Do you think, America, that this is going to solve the fiscal problems that the Congress and President created?

My home State of New Jersey suffered devastating damage from Sandy this past fall, as did a few other States. Employees from FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, HUD, and many other agencies were on the ground immediately.

How dare you ask this pejorative question about, well, what if we took the dollar from the clerk and then provided it to our Armed Forces?

What kind of negotiation is that?

What kind of bartering are we doing?

And we're doing the same thing with our own staffs, the very people that are sitting alongside us and behind us, which is not germane to this legislation, but we're doing the same thing. They haven't had a raise in 2 years.

Oh, wonderful, we're saving the country because we're doing that. These are human beings too. They're not chattel. They're not numbers.


Mr. PASCRELL. They're not stick figures. They walk the streets, navigating through flooding, debris, downed power lines, these Army Corps, these FEMA folks, in order to assess damages and reach out to the victims. They're not nameless. They're not faceless bureaucrats. These are heroes who continue to contribute each and every day to our ongoing rebuilding.

And darn it, we allowed this to happen 5 or 6 years ago when we laid off thousands and thousands of police officers and firefighters and teachers and we called it saving the country.

Federal workers are also law enforcement officers and firefighters who put their lives on the line for us every day. They work for the Defense Department. They protect us in our times of need, and we need to be there for them.

They've done and continue to do their part. I am tired of us using Federal, State, local, county employees as the scapegoats for our ineptness. Maybe it's the politically correct thing to do to capitulate and join the forces and cut everybody. That's what we should do? I don't think so.

I will debate you anytime on the Federal workers.


Mr. PASCRELL. I wouldn't use the two words that you used. I would use the word ``demeaning.'' We have demeaned our staff, which is not included in this, I understand that. But you want to know something? Those unemployment figures for the last 6 years would be so different if we hadn't laid off those very same Federal employees whom you are now deciding to take a half a percent away from them at this particular time. And for some crazy idea that you'll give the money to the agency to do with it what it wishes, I don't think you meant that, really. I don't think you meant that at all.


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