Federal agencies directed to hold off on shutdown raises

April FrancisJan 07, 2019

The Trump administration has frozen pay raises for Vice President Mike Pence, Cabinet members, and select appointees amid the partial government shutdown, the White House announced Friday evening.

"Unless extended by new legislation, the pay freeze will end on the last day of the last pay period that begins in calendar year 2018", Margaret Weichert, the agency's acting director, wrote in a memo last week.

An executive pay freeze, which caps the salaries of top government employees and has been in place since 2013, lapsed on December 21 because Congress was unable to pass the spending bill in which it was included, leading to the government shutdown that's now gone on for two weeks.

The increases were the result of Congress' failure to renew a long-standing freeze on raises for high-ranking officials and political appointees.

Cabinet secretaries who were paid US$199,700 a year would have seen their annual pay rise to US$210,700.

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Deputy secretaries would get a raise from $179,700 to $189,600, and Pence is scheduled to get a hike from $230,700 to $243,500, the paper reported. An administration official later said Pence's staff believes he has to accept the raise during the shutdown and pay taxes on it, but will reimburse the Treasury or donate the pay to charity. Federal workers were expecting to receive a 2.1 percent across-the-board pay raise this year.

The memo came after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration was aware of the issue and was "exploring options to prevent this from being implemented while some federal workers are furloughed". Almost 800,000 workers have gone without pay since the shutdown: About 380,000 have been furloughed, and others have continued to work through the shutdown and will be paid when it ends.

House Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to journalists following a meeting with President Donald Trump, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and fellow members of Congress about border security at the White House in Washington on January 2, 2019.

The news of the executive pay raises was especially galling for many due to the executive order Trump signed just last week, freezing the pay of about two million public employees in 2019.

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