Trump Considering Salary Freeze for Federal Employees

President Donald Trump has expressed his intentions to cancel the automatic pay raise scheduled for effectiveness next year, targeting federal civilian workers. In January 2019, federal employees were to entitled to 2.1 percent raise across the board, while those living in high-cost areas were entitled to more.

According to a letter written by Trump addressed to Paul Ryan, the House speaker on Thursday, he noted that efforts must be maintained to put the nation on a fiscally sustainable track, and the Federal agency is not capable of sustaining such increases.

Trump placed the cost of the increases related to high costs spheres at $25 billion.

For the members of the military, nothing has changed. They will still receive a 2.6 percent pay increase.

The letter is largely symbolic, although it is part of Trump’s administration frequent antagonistic attitude towards the 2 million federal workers. Congress is the ultimate determiner on whether or not federal employees get a raise.

As part of an expending bill for federal agencies, the Senate has approved a 1.9 percent salary increment, while the House did not include any raise. The decision lies on congressional negotiators to come at a compromise. The administration has so far not issued a threat on vetoing the spending bill if pay raise is included.

A statement released by J David Cox, the president of the biggest federal employees union- American Federation of Government Employees, urges the Congress to walk behind the Senate’s precedence and offer federal workers fair salary adjustment come January. This adjustment would help in the recruitment and retention of a high-caliber workforce, by the federal agents that the public deserves and matches their expectations. It will also prevent employees from falling further behind in 2019.

Federal salaries were frozen for three years during the Obama administration. President Trump said that that the freeze will not affect his administration’s ability to engage and retain a high-caliber federal workforce.

Although Trump has mentioned the effect of the civilian increases on the deficit, administration-supported spending increases and tax cuts will add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years. Pay freeze critics use this fact as a base of their stand.

In a statement, Senator Mark Warner, D-Va noted that Trump has inflated the deficit by trillions of dollars with the tax giveaway basically benefiting the wealthiest Americans and big companies. He considers Trump’s actions as disingenuous or hypocritical as they intend to turn around and betray the hardworking federal workers in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Previously, the Trump administration had proposed a cut in federal workers retirement benefits. It had also given a series of administrative orders that would have made firing employees rules easy and prevent federal workers unions operations in federal buildings.

However, a federal judge last week overturned many of these provisions. Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S District Judge ruled that the directives were beyond the president’s jurisdiction. The ruling was celebrated by federal workers union leaders terming it as an affirmation of the judiciary capacity to check executive actions that go beyond their authority. The administration said it would comply with the directive.