Amid Shutdown, Trump Orders Federal Pay Freeze

As if Donald Trump’s border wall government shutdown were not already causing great holiday pain to the 800,000 unpaid and 380,000 furloughed federal employees, the president on Friday decided to order a freeze on those federal employees’ salaries.

Trump’s executive order halts an automatic 2.1 percent increase civilian employees would have received under federal pay laws.

Due to separate funding, military personnel will still receive their 2.6 percent raise.

President of the National Treasury Employees Union, Tony Reardon, said in a statement:

“This is just pouring salt into the wound. It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”

Trump called the planned pay raises “inappropriate” in an August letter to congressional leaders, stating:

“Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.”

Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said federal pay raises “should be the first order of business” when the new Congress convenes Thursday, citing Congress’ authority to override presidential executive orders.

Top-level government employees, however, may see fatter paychecks as a 2013 pay freeze for senior officials is set to expire this month. This means, as the Washington Post reportsTrump’s political appointees may be eligible for “catch-up raises” that amount to thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, Trump’s refusal to retreat from demands for five billion dollars of taxpayer money to be put toward a wall along the southern US border with Mexico has stretched the ensuing shutdown into its twelfth day.

Democratic and Republican leaders from were invited to the White House Situation Room Wednesday for an ultimately intransigent “border security briefing.”

About the meeting, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said:

“We’re asking the President to open up government. We are giving him a Republican path to do that. Why would he not do it? Our question to the president and to the Republicans is why don’t you accept what you have already done [in order] to open up government?”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) added:

“We asked him to give us one good reason [to refuse to open the government]. I asked him directly. He could not give a good answer. To use the shutdown as hostage–which they had no argument against–is wrong.”

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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