Trump cancels pay raises for federal employees

President Donald Trump

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo, Nixon exchange blows in tense primary debate Trump tried to convince GOP senators to turn on Sessions: report Trump discussed preparing for impeachment proceedings with his legal team: report MORE on Thursday announced that he would cancel a scheduled 2.1 percent across-the-board pay increase for federal workers, as well as locality pay increases.

"We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets can not sustain such increases", Trump wrote in a letter to members of Congress.

Meanwhile, the largest union representing government workers is rejecting the move to eliminate the pay increase for fiscal 2019 and calling for Congress to follow the Senate's lead. Separately, the Senate backed a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month. Congress will ultimately decide whether federal workers get a raise. Under the complex federal pay law, in that case such a message must be issued by the end of August to prevent a much larger raise from taking effect automatically should no decision be made by the end of the year.

Cox said federal worker pay and benefits have been cut by more than $200 billion since 2011.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said Trump didn't have the power to force changes to union contracts because they would violate the collective bargaining rights federal employees have under the law.

Congress has an opportunity to effectively overrule the President's edict if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. Officials did not immediately say whether the pay freeze would also apply to White House staffers.

It is a harsh indictment of President Trump's values that he is freezing workers' pay to offset his multi-billion-dollar tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

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

For 2019, the administration is projecting the deficit will once again top $1 trillion and stay at that level for the next three years. Mark Warner, D-Va., called it "the latest attack in the Trump Administration's war on federal employees".

"These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce", he added. "Across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases, in particular, have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals".

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