Rep. Gerry Connolly, whose Northern Virginia district is home to many federal employees, signed on to a letter last week asking payroll tax conferees not to freeze federal employees' salaries for a third year.
To bolster their position, Republicans point to a recent Congressional Budget Office report showing that federal workers earn on average 16 percent more than their private-sector counterparts. A 2011 study by two conservative scholars found the disparity to be even greater.
Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), stresses that Duffy’s bill is simply extending pay freezes already endorsed by the Obama administration, although the president has not endorsed the extension.
Some Democrats are siding with Republicans.
“At a time when Utah families are struggling with tight budgets, now is not the time for Members of Congress or federal employees to receive a pay increase,” Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said. “Reducing the red ink back here and putting us on a path toward a balanced budget will take shared sacrifice and that starts with us, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who appealed to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction last year to cut Congressional salaries by 5 percent, also plans to vote for the bill, according to spokesman Willy Ritch.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.