Federal Daily News
Senate bill would extend pay freeze until mid-2014
Six Republican senators on Feb. 2 introduced a bill that uses a further extension of the federal civilian pay freeze—as well as federal workforce reductions—to head off automatic defense budget cuts slated to take effect in 2013.
Dubbed the “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act,” the bill aims to avoid billions of dollars in additional defense budget cuts with savings generated from an extension of the federal pay freeze until June 2014, and a 5 percent cut in the number of civilian feds through attrition. The bill would downsize the federal workforce by about 115,000 employees by hiring only two employees for every three leaving federal employment until the 5 percent reduction is met. The senators say the measures together will replace about $110 billion in defense spending cuts in 2013.
The bill, which also would freeze pay for members of Congress, is co-sponsored by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
In a joint release announcing the legislation, the senators justified the pay freeze measure in part by citing the same Congressional Budget Office report referenced by supporters of another pay freeze extension bill passed by the House this week. That report claimed federal employees received total compensation that is on average 16 percent higher than that received by their private-sector counterparts.
The Defense Department already is slashing nearly $500 billion from its budget over 10 years. But under the Budget Control Act of 2011, if Congress does not find additional savings, another half-trillion dollars would have to be trimmed from the defense budget though automatic “sequestration” cuts in what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called “a meat-ax approach.”
In a separate statement, Sen. Ayotte maintained that allowing defense sequestration cuts to go forward “would harm our military in a way that our enemies have not been able to.”
“While we all agree that targeted savings must be found at the Pentagon, allowing across-the-board defense sequestration to move forward would be one of the most dangerous and irresponsible political decisions that we’ve seen in Washington in a long time,” she said.