Cummings Statement on Pay Freeze Bill (HR 273)
Below is Ranking Member Cummings’s statement, as prepared for delivery from the House Floor, on the Pay Freeze Bill (H. R. 273).
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member
Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
H.R. 273, A Bill to Eliminate the 2013 Statutory Pay Adjustment for Federal Employees (Rep. DeSantis)
February 15, 2012
I rise today in strong opposition to H.R. 273.
Given the many critical challenges our nation faces, I and many of my colleagues hoped that the 113th Congress would bring a new era of shared purpose that would enable us to work together to grow the nation’s economy, create jobs, and invest in our country’s future.
There are only 5 legislative days left before the across-the-board cuts required by sequestration will take effect. Rather than seeking solutions to the urgent challenges we face, Republicans are wasting two days simply renewing their attacks on middle-class federal employees.
H.R. 273 has one purpose: it would extend the current freeze on federal employees’ pay for a third consecutive year.
Mr./Madame Speaker, federal workers – the same federal workers who care for our veterans and secure our borders and regulate our drug supply – have already contributed more than a $100 billion toward reducing the deficit and funding unemployment benefits for millions of other American workers.
No other group of Americans has contributed more to reducing the deficit.
No other group has contributed more to ensuring our government remains strong.
No other group has worked harder to ensure we are securing our nation from threats.
No other group has worked harder to provide the services on which our fellow citizens depend.
If H.R. 273 becomes law, these same middle-class workers would be required to contribute another $11 billion toward deficit reduction, for a staggering total of nearly $115 billion.
These are the same workers who have had their pay frozen for years.
And these are the same workers who are now facing the very real threat of furloughs and layoffs if Congress fails to resolve sequestration by March 1st.
The Administration estimates that the arbitrary across-the-board budget cuts for federal agencies that would be required under sequestration would result in the furlough of more than 1 million employees.
We are at a tipping point in our nation. The American people have re-elected President Obama and voted in favor of policies that will support continued economic growth, create new and expanded job opportunities, and ensure the safety and health of our nation.
However, here in the House, the voters are not being heard – and we continue to waste time considering measures that will only make our fellow Americans less secure financially, less secure in their healthcare, less secure in their children’s education, and less secure in their jobs.
At the same time, House Republicans have refused to consider asking the richest among us to contribute a dime more. We could have spent today considering a proposal to eliminate tax breaks used by oil and gas companies and hedge fund managers.
We could have spent today considering a limit to itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans.
Instead, House Republicans continue to return to the same middle-class American workers over and over and over again.
The problem is that these repeated cuts will impair the ability of the government to carry out its missions in service to the American people.
As President Obama has emphasized, “our economy succeeds and our economy grows when everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s getting a fair shake.”
I urge my colleagues to move beyond this partisan agenda of denigrating our nation’s public servants and join together to address the real issues Americans elected us to resolve.