President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, following through on a proposal he announced earlier in the year.
The move, which nixes a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January, comes as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are expecting to begin the new year furloughed or working without pay because of a partial government shutdown.
Trump told lawmakers he planned to scrap the 2019 pay bump for federal workers in August, saying the federal budget couldn’t support it. In addition to the 2.1% pay increase, the executive order also cancels a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where workers are posted, called the “locality pay increase,” that was due to take effect in January.
The move does not affect a 2.6% pay increase for US troops next year that was passed as part of the massive defense spending bill Trump signed in August.
Lawmakers could include a pay raise for 2019 in a spending bill to reopen the government, but negotiations have been at an impasse over money for Trump’s border wall.
About 380,000 federal employees are on furlough and 420,000 are working without pay as the new year approaches.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders in August, Trump described the pay increase as “inappropriate.”
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the President wrote.
Trump also stressed that a pay freeze would not affect the federal government’s ability to attract qualified workers. He cited his statutory authority to adjust pay out of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”