Margaret Baptiste, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, just put out a statement urging senators to oppose a spending bill amendment that would freeze federal salaries. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., want to cover the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan war spending by eliminating expenses such as federal civilian raises and bonuses. Their proposal — as well as a House bill also targeting the 2011 raise — would not affect military service members. Baptiste said:
We believe it is wrong to single out federal workers for cuts that others serving our country are not being asked to make. More specifically, why would the Congress take a punitive action against the thousands of federal civilian employees who are working alongside their uniformed colleagues in Iraq and Afghanistan by requiring them to forgo a small salary increase to partially pay for the wars they are helping to win?
It’s also a mistake, Baptiste said, to think of the civil service as a cost burdening the nation instead of a resource to invest in:
Civil service pay and benefits have been a perennial target of budgeteers and “bureaucrats” have long been an easy “whipping boy” for voters. If we are to make wise choices about putting our fiscal house in order, members of Congress and the public need to be educated about the invaluable contributions made to our country by Americans who devote their careers to the public service.
The drive to strike the 2011 pay raise seems to be picking up steam. HR 5382, a bill sponsored by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that would cancel the proposed 1.4 percent raise, is likely to come up for a vote tomorrow. A vote on the McCain and Coburn amendment hasn’t been scheduled yet, but also could come soon.