Donald Trump has canceled a planned pay raise for federal workers, CNN reports. Under current law, the 2.1 percent across-the-board pay raise was scheduled in 2019 for all civilian federal employees, as well as location-based increases. Trump addressed the decision to forgo the pay increase in a letter to House and Senate leaders on Thursday, saying, “We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases”. Trump also stated the pay increase would amount to over $25 billion, which he called “inappropriate”. The letter was addressed to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and the president made his decision clear by stating, “I have determined that for 2019, both across the board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero”.
Trump is not worried about the effect of freezing federal pay on the government’s ability to be successful in “recruiting, retaining and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets.” Military personnel, unlike civilian federal employees, are still due for a pay increase valued at 2.6 percent, CNBC reports. This comes as no surprise as Trump recently signed a $716 billion defense bill earlier this month.
Trump’s administration proposed a $143.5 billion cut regarding federal employee pay in May. This proposal included substantial cuts to retirement funds. In the same month, Trump signed three consecutive orders that made it easier to fire civilian employees. These orders also attempted to put limits on union activity. A federal judge invalidated many of the proposed provisions from these consecutive orders on Saturday.
Congress does have the option to override Trump’s freeze on federal raises. However, both the House and Senate have differing spending plans and Trump would ultimately have to sign the bill to put it into action. Federal News Radio reports that a spending plan approved by the Senate includes a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees while the House’s own version of the bill does not include such measures. It is worth noting that the Senate spending plan did receive some opposition from the White House, as Trump has recommended freezing federal salary despite increasing pay by 1.4 percent last year, according to Washington’s Top News.
This is not the first time in recent history that a president has frozen civilian federal pay raises. Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, froze raises for civilian employees for three consecutive years during his two terms as president from 2011 through 2013.