Every year, members of the House and Senate send individual and joint letters to their respective Appropriations Committee stating their support or opposition to provisions that may be included in the upcoming fiscal year’s appropriations (funding) bill. This year, Hawaii Senators Brian Schatz (D) and Mazie Hirono (D) each led a joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of federal workers.
On April 20, 2018, Senator Schatz, joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Hirono, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Mark Warner (D-VA), sent a letter to Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over federal employee pay and benefits, urging them to include a three (3) percent pay increase for federal workers in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 FSGG appropriations bill. The letter notes how federal employee pay has failed to keep up with the private sector and the importance of providing competitive pay in order to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce. As you know, given the President’s decision to implement a pay freeze for January 2019, it is imperative that Congress act to provide federal workers a pay increase for next year.
Yesterday, Senator Mazie Hirono, joined by Senators Kaine, Cardin, Van Hollen, Warner, Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tom Carper (D-DE), Feinstein, Sanders, Edward Markey (D-MA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), sent a letter to Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, urging that the committee provide in the FY 2019 appropriations bills the resources needed to support the women and men of the federal workforce. This includes rejecting the President’s proposed pay freeze for 2019, proposals to increase employee retirement contributions and cut benefits, and proposals to decrease the government’s share towards employees’ health insurance premiums. The letter also urges funding for federal agencies where the President has proposed cuts or provides insufficient funding. Examples include the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Authority, the National Park Service, and Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations.
If the federal government is to have the ability to compete with the private sector in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, it is essential that the federal government provide its workers competitive pay and benefits and ensure that federal agencies have sufficient funding to meet their missions. I applaud the efforts of Senator Schatz and Hirono, and all of the other Senators who joined their letters in support of the federal workforce.
NTEU will continue to push for fair pay and benefits as well as sufficient agency funding as the FY 2019 appropriations process moves forward. I will keep you updated on future developments.