Politics

House Makes It Easier To Cut Federal Salaries

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Rules adopted late Tuesday by the House of Representatives to reduce federal red tape may also make it easier for Congress to downsize the government workforce and slash bureaucrats’ pay.

There are 2.1 million federal employees who are paid an average total compensation of $123,160, with salary and benefits for all employees excluding U.S. Postal Service workers, costing taxpayers $267 billion in 2016. The private sector average compensation is $69,901, according to a Downsizingovernment.org review of Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

The four richest counties in the U.S. and five of the top 10 are located in the Washington, D.C., region, which has the highest concentration of federal workers. Despite the already generous compensation paid their members, federal employee unions demanded a 5.3 percent pay raise in 2016.

The rules package includes a provision allowing lawmakers to reduce the number of federal employees or employees’ pay as a part of an amendment to an appropriations bill. The change revives the “Holman Rule” that Congress nixed in 1983.

The rule, which will only be in place for 2017 unless Congress invokes it again next year, applies only to employees at agencies covered in a specific spending bill. The House approved the package, which governs House members’ conduct in the 115th session, in a 234-193 vote along party lines. (RELATED: 27 Percent Of Employees Might Quit If Trump Is Elected)

Democrats opposed the Republican-backed move to simplify downsizing the federal workforce.

“Republicans have consistently made our hardworking federal employees scapegoats, in my opinion, for lack of performance of the federal government itself,” House Minority Whip and Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer said on the House floor Tuesday. “And this rule change will enable them to make short-sighted and ideologically driven changes to our nation’s civil service.”

The likelihood of a federal employee getting fired in a given year is one-in-500 under current law and regulation, as The Daily Caller News Foundation has reported. That compares with a one-in-77 chance for a private-sector employee.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to reduce the federal workforce, and proposed imposing a federal hiring freeze his first day in office.

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