Hoyer: If We Continue to Demagogue Federal Employees, America Will Lose

For Immediate Release:

February 14, 2013

Contact:

Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) testified yesterday before the House Rules Committee in opposition to H.R. 273, which eliminates the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for federal employees. Below are excerpts and a link to the video:

Click here to watch the video. 

"What the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act does, that I have pointed out to you was adopted in a bipartisan way, working with the OMB, OPM, and the first Bush Administration. It says let's look at the private sector and we use... the Economic Cost Index, which simply reflects the adjustment in private sector pay generally across the private sector and it then says that federal employees will get paid comparably... Whether you like government or you don't like government, if we are doing a function it ought to be done well and we ought to have competent, capable people to do that and therefore we need to recruit and yes, we need to retain competent people... If you are not paying comparable wages people are not going to, over time, work for you because they are going to go to the best available opportunity for them. So, in adopting the Federal Government Federal Pay Comparability Act, it was determined that we would pay comparable wages."

"...It is a general proposition, we said we want to stay even with this comparability and that's what this comparability adjustment is and the law says that if the Congress doesn't set it, then the President can do it by Executive Order. So, it's not just some magic. That's what the law says, it doesn't just come down out of the air. And so the President said -- because we provided in the CR, as the Gentleman pointed out, only until March 27th the freeze -- [federal employees] have now had a freeze for two and a half years. That has cost federal employees approximately $75 billion dollars -- a $75 billion dollar reduction in what 3 years ago they would have anticipated making over the next 10 years... When you add in the reduction for new employees in the pension system, it's about $103 billion that we have already done." 

"Now there is a hostility towards government but we ought not to have that hostility for government directed at those people we employ to do the services we ask them to perform -- whether they do it on the defense side or the non-defense side, whether they are food inspectors that try to make our food safe, whether they are researchers at the National Institute of Health, whether they are law enforcement officials in the FBI, whether they are on the front lines of our security in the CIA -- wherever those civilians may be -- and some of them are at the point of the spear in harm's way, and they are getting killed. And we ask them to perform services for our country. We have frozen [their pay] for two and a half years."

"If we continue to demagogue federal employees, if we continue to use federal employees as a piñata, you are going to find that people don't want to work for this government... And America will lose, not the federal employees."

"...Reject the rejection of the half a point increase for federal employees to give them some indication that we value their service, that we respect their contribution. This is a two and half year freeze. It's not like they've gotten away for free. It's $103 billion, $10 billion a year they've taken a cut already in pay and benefits. That's not insignificant, I would suggest to you." 

"[The sequester is] going to be harmful -- it's going to be harmful to our national security. It's going to be harmful to our domestic security. ... The fact of the matter is Mr. Van Hollen has an alternative. It's a relatively small alternative, because we're talking about just the short term for the sequester. I think we ought to do a big, balanced deal for 10 years. I think that would be the best stimulus this Congress could pass. I think it would give confidence to business, confidence to consumers, confidence to America, and indeed confidence to the international community."

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