WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Tuesday that he is extending a two-year pay freeze for federal employees until at least next spring.
The freeze will stay in effect during a short-term deal to fund the government through April. The presidential campaign made it difficult to reach a more long-range agreement before the start of fiscal 2013 on Oct. 1.
Obama, in a letter to the congressional leadership, said that government "must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course." The administration estimates the two-year pay freeze will save more than $60 billion.
Obama has proposed an across-the-board 0.5 percent pay raise, but said the increase should not take effect until Congress passes a budget. The proposal would effectively delay the pay increase for three months.
Congress would have to enact the pay-raise proposal. Congress reached a short-term deal before its August recess to fund the government for six months.
J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called Obama's decision to extend the two-year federal pay freeze "absolutely unwarranted and unjustified."
"Federal employees cannot afford another four months or even another day of frozen wages," Cox said.