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Federal Law Enforcement Seeks Pay Freeze Reprieve

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Tom Marino voted for the House’s pay freeze bill Wednesday but said he continues to work for an agreement to protect federal law enforcement officers in future legislation.

“I oppose a third year federal employee pay freeze entirely and find it especially appalling that we would … say that our federal law enforcement officers are not ‘critical’ to our national security,” Pascrell said in a statement to Roll Call. “Our federal law enforcement officers … [keep] our federal facilities, public parks and communities safer … through two years of austerity — at times putting themselves in deadly circumstance.”

Pascrell’s Republican counterpart in the caucus’s leadership, former sheriff Dave Reichert (Wash.), said he will “work to give voice to their concerns as Congress continues to work to rein in federal spending.”

Another House advocate is Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), a former U.S. attorney whose district holds the largest federal prison complex in the country. While he voted for the House’s pay freeze bill Wednesday, he said he did so with reluctance and continues to work for an agreement to protect federal law enforcement officers in future legislation.

“I’m continuing to speak with my colleagues and leadership,” Marino said, arguing that the pay freeze will hurt law enforcement agencies’ recruitment and retention efforts and force more officers into retirement. “It’s an ongoing, open discussion.”

He acknowledged, however, that getting support for a carve-out would be a challenge. In the Senate, lawmakers haven’t expressed enthusiasm for the idea.

“I’m not surprised,” Heller said with a laugh when asked by Roll Call what he thought about federal law enforcement officers’ plea to be spared another year of flatlined salaries.

“I think everybody performs a vital role,” McCain said. In regard to exempting one part of the federal workforce, he added, “I think that’s a slippery slope.”

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), who has been a leading voice against federal pay freezes, also dismissed the idea that any one agency should be exempt.

“A third-year pay freeze would be a hardship for everyone in our federal workforce. I’m not looking at exemptions because I don’t believe we should even have a freeze,” he said.

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