By Robert Longley, About.com GuideMarch 14, 2013
While the latest government spending “continuing resolution” just passed by the House would at least delay a government shutdown, it would also mean three more potential financial setbacks for some 1.8 million federal employees.
While the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 933), would allow the government to keep on spending taxpayers’ money at the 2012 rate until Sept. 30, 2013, it also attempts to save some money by cancelling the 0.5% raise for federal employees set to start on March 27, extending their current pay freeze through the end of 2013 and confirming that they can legally be forced to take unpaid furloughs because of sequestration.
The current continuing resolution funding government spending without a proper federal budget expires on March 27. Congress has until then to avert a government shutdown by either passing an actual annual budget resolution or passing H.R. 933, continuing funding at 2012 level through the end of the government’s fiscal year on September 30, 2013.
While House and Senate leaders continue to work on a compromise budget resolution, their history of failure makes passage of the new continuing resolution H.R. 933 seem a more likely outcome. On March 6, the House passed H.R. 933 – including the provisions impacting federal workers – by a vote of 267-151, drawing favorable votes from 214 Republicans but only 53 Democrats. The Senate may debate and vote on H.R. 933 as early as this week.
Unless amended by the Democrat-controlled Senate, H.R. 933 would effectively rescind President Obama’s Dec. 27, 2012 executive order granting federal employees a 0.5% to 1.0% pay increase effective March 27, 2013.
Until issuing his Dec. 2012 executive order, President Obama had been cutting and freezing federal workers’ pay since first taking office.
In September 2009, Obama cut the fiscal year 2010 pay increases scheduled for federal employees from as much as 18.9% to no more than 2.0%. Then in Nov. 2010, Obama compelled Congress to flat-out freeze their pay, denying any regular raises through 2012. Finally, in Aug. 2012, Obama got Congress to extend the pay freeze through at least April of 2013.
And as icing on the already bitter cake, came predictions that as many as one million federal workers could be forced to take unpaid work furloughs of undetermined length as a result of the March 1 mandatory budget sequestration. The latest continuing resolution H.R. 933 contains language confirming that the sequestration-driven furloughs could legally be ordered under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
With their pay frozen for nearly three years, and now facing unpaid days off, it’s not surprising that the overall job satisfaction and level of commitment of the federal workforce has fallen to its lowest point since 2003.