A bill blocking a congressional and civilian federal employee pay raise introduced by Bucks County Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick was approved in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. on Monday.
Fitzpatrick’s GOP-backed bill was approved in the House by a vote of 287-129. The Washington Post reported 55 Democrats voted with their GOP counterparts to approve the bill.
The legislation rescinds the congressional and civilian federal employee pay raise that President Obama approved in the final days of 2012. The president’s approved executive order gave all non-military federal employees a cost of living pay increase starting March 27; something they have not seen in three years.
If approved by the Senate and president, the Fitzpatrick bill would keep the pay freeze in effect for the rest of 2013.
"At a time when American families are tightening their belts and businesses are reducing salaries to make ends meet, I believe that the federal government must lead by example," Fitzpatrick said in a statement issued when he was introducing the bill on Monday.
Fitzpatrick asked in the statement what message the public would get if congress people got a raise while “private sector and small businesses are being asked to sacrifice.”
A January 2012 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found pay and benefit compensation for civilian federal employees was 16 percent greater than people holding similar positions in the private sector.
“Federal employees have continued to receive promotions and within-grade pay increases over the past few years of the supposed ‘pay freeze,’ and voluntary separations from the federal government are near all-time lows,” outspoken California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci and several other lawmakers all introduced similar legislation to reinstate the federal pay freeze for all members of congress and the vice president.
Rep. John Barrow, a Georgia Democrat, made headlines when he became one of the first of his party to support blocking the pay freeze. He said, “Too many families face uncertainty in the New Year for Congress to get a bonus.”
The current federal employee pay freeze was extended until March 27 by Obama in December.