At least 180 lawmakers voice support for federal pay raise as Congress goes to conference

About 40 percent of House lawmakers have said they support a federal pay raise for civilian employees next year.

More than 180 House Democrats and Republicans at this point have either written to President Donald Trump and asked him to reconsider his plans to freeze pay or have written to congressional leadership in pursuit of a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian employees in 2019.

Another bipartisan group of House members, made up mostly of Republicans, has written to the president and asked him to reconsider his plans for a pay freeze next year.

“We applaud efforts to be fiscally responsible, these scheduled pay raises are overdue for our hardworking federal employees and provide incentives to recruit and retain a strong federal workforce,” 23 House members wrote in a Sept. 7 letter.

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Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) spearheaded this letter, along with fellow Virginia Republicans Barbara Comstock and Rob Wittman.

Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), David McKinley (R-W.V.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) have also signed the letter.

The 23 members, which also included seven Democrats, described the role that federal employees within the Defense, Homeland Security and State Departments, in particular, play in preserving the public’s safety, national security and cybersecurity defense.

“It would be a mistake to refuse our federal civilian employees this well-deserved pay increase,” members wrote. “We must show our appreciation for their hard work and that we value their service to our country.”

The letter from a bipartisan group of lawmakers comes as 159 Democratic members on Friday wrote to congressional leadership, urging them to consider the 1.9 percent pay raise the Senate has already included in its financial services and general government appropriations bill for 2019.

“The federal government has serious business to conduct, and we must block the president’s indefensible attacks on the federal workforce that we count on every day,” House Democrats wrote in their own Sept. 7 letter. “It is obviously a cruel joke to say that federal workers and their families should suffer in the name of the president’s sudden campaign for fiscal responsibility.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) led the drafting of the House Democrats’ letter.

1.9 percent raise passed in Senate

Citing the “nation’s fiscal situation,” Trump announced his plans to freeze federal pay in late August. In his announcement, the president described his preference for a pay system that prioritized performance over across-the-board raises.

In passing its version of the financial services and general government appropriations bill, the Senate has already signed off on a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian employees next year. The House, however, has remained silent on the topic and must conference with the Senate to resolve their differences in appropriations bills.

Congressional leaders late last week named representatives who will serve on the conference committee for the Interior, Environment, Financial Services and General Government appropriations Act.

Of the House Republicans that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) named to the conference committee, one member, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), has publicly said he supports a pay raise over a freeze for federal employees.

All of the House Democrats’ conferees, including House Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. David Price (D-N.C.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), have publicly expressed their opposition to the president’s pay freeze and were signatories of the Democrats’ most recent letter on the topic.

Both Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), the chairman and ranking member of the chamber’s Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, are conferees for the Senate.

It was Lankford and Coons’ subcommittee that initially pushed for the inclusion of a 1.9 percent raise in next year’s appropriations bill.