President Trump today announced his intention to freeze Federal civilian pay increases for calendar-year 2019. That plan, contained in a letter to congressional leaders, reflects President Trump’s call for a civilian federal employee wage freeze in his FY19 budget proposal.

“I have determined that for 2019, both across the board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero. These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well qualified Federal workforce,” Trump wrote.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved a 1.9 percent pay increase as part of appropriations bill H.R. 6147 covering FY2019. The House did not include a pay increase in its version the bill.  House and Senate negotiators will have to reconcile differences in the legislation in a conference committee before it can become law.

In taking the pay-freeze action, President Trump said he was authorized under current law “to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of ‘national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,’ I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.”

“Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, costing $25 billion, would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule. We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” he said.

“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” President Trump wrote.

“Across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases, in particular, have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals,” he said.

The pay freeze will take effect on January 1, 2019, the President said.

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MeriTalk Staff