Maureen Beach, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to Republicans' proposed pay freeze that asks federal workers to make additional contributions while not asking others to pay their fair share. While he opposed GOP legislation to freeze federal employees' pay, Whip Hoyer voiced support for Rep. Chris Van Hollen's bill to freeze pay for Members of Congress. Below are his remarks and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
"I listened to the gentleman's comments. The gentleman is new to the Congress and probably doesn't have the background in terms of how this developed as to how we pay federal employees.
"As the sponsor of the Federal Pay Comparability Act in 1990, signed by George Bush, and who worked with President Bush's OMB and OPM on this legislation, obviously one of the things we did was to say if the private sector doesn't get [a cost-of-living] increase, the public sector won't get an increase. And we keyed increases to the Economic Cost Index which is all to say that we need to tighten our belts when the private sector tightens their belts. Which is why, I think, I caught the gentleman's reference that over the last two years federal employees have in fact received cuts to existing law which will result in a $60 billion savings. I think the gentleman said that. It bears repeating. It's not as if the federal employees haven’t tightened their belts. They have. And a point of fact, the pay council to which he referred believes on average the federal employees are, in fact, behind, not ahead.
"I'm aware of the CBO report that was just issued. Mr. Cummings has responded to that. Clearly, what they said is there is a disparity, and those on the lower end of the scale are doing better. Those on the upper end of the scale aren't doing so well. None of them are getting paid as much as the gentleman is who made this speech or as I’m getting. None of them are making as much as we are.
"Now, what we have here is a very clever political effort to have members vote either for their pay or against their pay being adjusted by cost-of-living adjustment. I am going to vote against this bill. But I am for putting on – and I would hope the unanimous consent request to do so would not be objected to on your side of the aisle – I am for bringing a bill to this Floor which would freeze our salaries. I've been for that for the last two years, and I have worked in a bipartisan way over the years not to demagogue members and have members get cost-of-living adjustments. The sponsor of this bill [Rep. Sean Duffy], as a matter of fact, is quoted saying how much difficulty he's having supporting his family on this salary. The fact of the matter is we ought to put a bill on this floor and freeze our salaries.
"Federal employees have already contributed $60 billion of benefits to which they otherwise would have been entitled, because we for the last two years with my support froze their salaries through the cost-of-living adjustment.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would hope for the bill sponsored by Mr. Van Hollen that there would not be objection to a unanimous consent request to bring that bill to the floor so that members could express that, yes, we're prepared to tighten our belt. But what we should not do is pretend that we're going to balance the budget by undermining middle-class workers who work for, in my opinion, the finest country on Earth and who give excellent service, extraordinary service to the people of this country and who are fewer than they were 20 years ago per capita.
"We ought to have a bill, we ought to pass Mr. Van Hollen's bill, we ought to take this out of the politics and then I tell my friends what we ought to do is pass the big deal. We ought to pass a $4 trillion to $6 trillion big deal to get the fiscal house in order of the United States of America. And it ought to include all things on the table, including federal employee pay and benefits, including the military pay and benefits and expenditures, and domestic expenditures as well as entitlements. I've said that. We ought not to do it piecemeal as this bill reflects."