Senate had Already Approved 1.9 Percent Pay Increase on a Bipartisan Basis, but President Trump Unilaterally Imposed Pay Freeze Over the Holidays Through Executive Order
WASHINGTON, DC – This week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined five of his Senate colleagues in urging President Trump to back off a planned pay freeze for civilian federal employees in 2019. This could impact tens of thousands of workers at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and throughout the greater Dayton area. There are more than 12,000 federal civilian workers at Wright-Patt and over 15,000 in the Dayton region. Brown said the President should immediately reverse course and give these workers the raises they have earned through hard work.
The letter was penned by Senators Brown, Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
“Our billionaire president is denying these workers the cost of living increase they have earned. It’s no surprise that after handing out more than $1 trillion in tax breaks to wealthy corporations and the top 1 percent, President Trump is now proposing to pay for the hole he blew in the deficit by denying federal workers their pay increase,” said Brown. “These 15,000 Dayton area workers help support Wright-Patterson’s national defense efforts, and they deserve to have their wages keep up with the cost of living.”
While the White House’s FY19 budget proposed an across-the-board pay freeze for civilian federal workers, in August, the Senate approved appropriations legislation providing for a 1.9 percent pay increase for federal workers. This was approved on a bipartisan basis. However, the House’s failure to take up the bill allowed President Trump to sign an executive order on December 28 — day six of the partial government shutdown — unilaterally freezing pay for civilian federal employees.
In their letter, the Senators pushed Trump to change course, highlighting bipartisan support for the Senate-passed 1.9 percent pay raise. They also underscored how freezing pay hinders the federal government’s hiring competitiveness with the private sector, and called out the President for not doing more to prioritize human capital investments. The Senators also committed to working towards a pay adjustment for FY19 if President Trump fails to reverse his decision.
The full text of the Senators’ letter is here and below:
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse your decision to freeze pay rates for non-military federal workers in 2019. After months of indecisiveness and mixed signals, your decision further penalizes hard-working federal employees already straining under the impact of the unnecessary government shutdown that began on December 22nd.
Freezing pay for federal workers adds insult to injury for dedicated public servants already subject to political attacks and gamesmanship. In February 2018, your administration’s budget proposed freezing federal civilian pay for 2019. In August 2018, the United States Senate included a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees in the appropriations bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. This action recognized the many contributions of federal workers and rebuked your unsubstantiated proposal to further hinder their economic security and our collective ability to compete with the private sector. There should be a particular sense of urgency in bolstering, rather than undermining, the competitiveness of the federal workforce considering that the share of federal employees eligible for retirement is expected to jump to 30 percent in five years.
As a businessman, we would expect you to understand the importance of human capital investments in recruiting and retaining talented employees. We are deeply troubled that you would abdicate your responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the federal workforce—particularly while so many federal employees are actively working without pay during a shutdown triggered by your own equivocation.
We strongly encourage you to take immediate action to reverse your ill-advised pay freeze and lift federal workers from this added layer of financial insecurity. Should you choose not to change course, we will continue working on a bipartisan basis to ensure federal workers receive a pay adjustment for Fiscal Year 2019.
Mark R. Warner (D-VA)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)