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Democrats Face Political Risk on Pay Freeze Proposal

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
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.

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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.

Emily Holden of CQ contributed to this report.

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