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Trump cancels pay raises for federal employees

President Donald Trump told lawmakers on Thursday he wants to scrap a pay raise for civilian federal workers...

Posted: Aug 31, 2018 1:38 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2018 1:38 PM

President Donald Trump told lawmakers on Thursday he wants to scrap a pay raise for civilian federal workers, saying the nation's budget couldn't support it.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Trump described the pay increase as "inappropriate."

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"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," the President wrote.

An across-the-board 2.1% pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. In addition, a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted -- the "locality pay increase" -- was due to take effect.

Trump said both increases should no longer happen.

RELATED: Trump touts economy: 'These numbers are very, very sustainable'

"I have determined that for 2019, both across the board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero," he wrote.

Congress has an opportunity to effectively overrule the President's edict if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. The Senate passed a bill this summer that included a 1.9% raise for federal workers. The House's version did not address federal pay. Senate and House negotiators will negotiate a final measure in the coming weeks.

Trump's 2019 budget proposal, released earlier this year, included a pay freeze for civilian federal workers. It's not clear if Trump would approve a budget that includes the pay increase; the White House has not issued a formal veto threat of the Senate's bill.

In his letter, Trump stressed a pay freeze would not affect the federal government's ability to attract qualified workers, and wrote the government would focus on "recruiting, retaining and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets."

RELATED: Trump's right: The economy is doing well and he deserves some credit

The implications of Trump's decision on the locality pay increase were not immediately clear. Workers based in more expensive parts of the country are paid higher salaries to compensate for the higher cost of living.

In his letter, Trump wrote the locality increase in 2019 would average 25.70% and cost the federal government $25 billion. But he did not say whether the locality adjustments already in place would remain in effect and the White House did not immediately clarify.

Pay for military personnel will not be affected by Trump's decree; instead, US troops are due a 2.6% pay increase next year. Trump frequently trumpets the military pay raise while listing his administration's accomplishments. The raise came as part of a massive $716 billion defense spending bill that Trump signed earlier this month.

RELATED: Trump misleads about military pay raises

That measure, along with a new two-year federal budget and tax cuts heralded by Republicans, have led to accusations Trump is ignoring the federal deficit, despite promising he would address it as president. The tax plan alone is expected to increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, according to a government estimate.

In ordering the raises canceled, Trump cited his statutory authority to adjust pay because of "national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare." Yet the President frequently touts a growing US economy, including a strong growth rate for the gross domestic product and low unemployment

"These numbers are very, very sustainable -- this isn't a one-time shot," he said last month after figures showed the US economy grew at a 4.1% annual rate in the second quarter of the year.

The pay raise matter was the latest in a string of moves that reflect an attempt to rein in spending on federal employees. Trump signed executive orders in May that made it easier to fire federal employees and placed limits on public-sector unions. A judge struck down most of those provisions last week.

Reaction on Thursday from Democrats was swift, particularly those from states adjacent to Washington, where large numbers of federal workers reside.

"Zero. This seems to be how much respect President Trump has for federal workers," wrote Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, in a statement. "It is outrageous and hypocritical that after spending billions of taxpayer dollars on unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations -- and as the President boasts about the 'great' state of the American economy, that suddenly the White House finds that there is zero money left to pay a minimal cost-of-living adjustment to the patriotic, dedicated public servants."

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, wrote: "Let's be clear: The President's decision to cancel any pay increase for federal employees is not motivated by a sudden onset of fiscal responsibility. Today's announcement has nothing to do with making government more cost-efficient -- it's just the latest attack in the Trump administration's war on federal employees."

While the Washington area contains the largest concentration of federal workers, only 1-in-6 civilian employees of the government live in the region.

The state with the largest number of federal workers is California, followed by Virginia, the District of Columbia and Texas. States Trump won in 2016 -- including Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio -- also rank high on the list of states where federal employees work.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
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Jasper290534
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Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
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Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
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Scott225739
Clay223532
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Jennings199336
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Spencer192422
Washington187523
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Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
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Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
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Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
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Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 864322

Reported Deaths: 10711
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101705707
Cuyahoga860661145
Hamilton64392448
Montgomery43309418
Summit35063761
Lucas31500625
Butler31128232
Stark25933435
Warren19746141
Lorain19165223
Mahoning17383338
Lake16178154
Clermont16057111
Delaware1445479
Licking13274137
Fairfield1287781
Trumbull12861316
Greene12114139
Medina11666168
Clark10995265
Wood10407158
Allen9945126
Portage9382109
Miami921073
Richland9186118
Marion7467113
Tuscarawas7410182
Columbiana7356124
Pickaway728450
Wayne7080171
Muskingum705241
Erie6188129
Hancock554390
Ross5532100
Scioto541664
Geauga513555
Darke471092
Lawrence457958
Ashtabula454673
Union454628
Sandusky438562
Mercer434489
Seneca431566
Huron430041
Auglaize423064
Shelby421922
Jefferson420569
Belmont417740
Washington391840
Athens38129
Putnam376275
Madison356529
Knox354422
Ashland347438
Fulton339343
Defiance332286
Crawford323874
Preble321437
Brown313921
Logan309132
Ottawa294943
Clinton290743
Williams279467
Highland276718
Jackson265345
Guernsey256326
Champaign252628
Fayette237330
Morrow23334
Perry232018
Holmes225674
Henry220149
Hardin214033
Coshocton205722
Van Wert202645
Gallia198826
Wyandot196151
Pike177417
Adams176915
Hocking172624
Carroll156216
Paulding144721
Noble120740
Meigs109024
Monroe101032
Harrison89421
Morgan83430
Vinton70813
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