House, Senate actions show deep divide in how to deal with federal budget
House votes to freeze and potentially slash pay for federal employees, while three senators call for reductions in enormous taxpayer subsidies to wealthiest contractors
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Actions taken today by the House and Senate show that lawmakers are at odds in how best to resolve federal budget issues, and unfortunately federal employees are right in the crosshairs.
Earlier today, in passing an appropriations bill that covered just the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, the House of Representatives voted to freeze the pay of the working- and middle-class Americans who make up the federal civil service for a third consecutive year.
In doing so, the House ratified sequestration, thus potentially slashing the income of hundreds of thousands of federal employees – from aircraft mechanics to Border Patrol agents – by as much as 20% if their agencies insist on 22 days of furloughs.
Later in the day, three senators – Barbara Boxer, Charles Grassley, and Joe Manchin – urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to use the fiscal 2013 funding measure to lower the obscenely high cap on taxpayer subsidies to compensation for contractors.
In a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and Ranking Member Richard Shelby, the bipartisan trio wrote:
"Most Americans would be shocked to know that under current law, government contractor employees can charge taxpayers $763,029 per year for salary reimbursements. The current compensation limit has more than doubled since 2000 and has grown more than 55 percent faster than the rate of inflation. The maximum amount of taxpayer dollars being paid to reimburse contractor employees for salaries not only increased more than $70,000 from the previous year's limit, it is now nearly double the salary earned by the President of the United States."
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. called attention to these disparate actions with the following statement:
"Both ends of the evolutionary scale were on display in the U.S. Congress today. In the GOP-dominated House of Representatives, knuckle-dragging lawmakers lashed out yet again at modestly paid civil servants and voted to enact during the rest of fiscal 2013 the sequestration cuts that will compromise important federal services. In the Senate, three lawmakers, attempting to appeal to the better angels of our nature, tried to convince their colleagues that the long-running, taxpayer-subsidized gravy train for the wealthiest contractors should be derailed.
"As House and Senate lawmakers hammer out a continuing resolution or omnibus, they should repeal sequestration, end contractor raids on the treasury, and allow federal employees a modest 0.5% pay increase after two years with no increases at all."
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees