Trump nixes pay raise for federal workers, citing budget deficit

President Trump wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Thursday that he is cancelling annual pay raises for federal employees in light of surging federal deficits.
By Rick Docksai | Aug 31, 2018
President Trump called off automatic pay raises for federal workers Thursday, including an across-the-board raise as well as individual locality pay increases. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate President Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Trump wrote that surging federal deficits call for changing the federal pay scale to a "performance-based" merit system.

"In light of our Nation's fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets," Trump wrote.

Most federal employees receive small automatic pay increases every year. But Trump wrote that the pay raises would add up to around $25 billion, which he thinks is "inappropriate." Trump added that he has the authority to call for an alternative pay schedule under Title 5 of the U.S. Code, which authorizes the president to alter scheduled pay if he determines that it is necessary due to "national emergency or serious economic conditions."

The U.S. economy achieved 2.2% GDP growth in the first quarter of this year and 4.2% in the second, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. But deficits are surging as a result of the Trump tax cut that is projected to cost $1.9 trillion over the course of a decade, as a well as congressionally authorized spending deals that have increased federal discretionary spending by almost $300 billion this fiscal year.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) condemned Trump's pay cancellation, tweeting that Trump "screwed" federal employees. Addressing the federal workforce, Swalwell added: "If billionaires can get tax cuts, you should get a COLA. You work hard for America & that should add up to something" (COLA stands for cost-of-living adjustment).

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