WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told congressional leaders on Thursday he plans on nixing pay increases to civilian federal employees that were slated to go into effect in January. The move could affect more than 16,000 workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Trump, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, said a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for some 2 million federal workers, and pay increases averaging 25.70 percent for employees in certain localities, were “inappropriate.”
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote.
The president said that for 2019, “both across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero.”
Uniformed military personnel would not face a pay freeze, according to the president’s letter. They still stand to receive a 2.6 percent increase in January under a military spending bill already passed by Congress.
Trump’s letter comes as the GOP-controlled House and Senate have been split on the issue of federal employee raises. The House has passed legislation that omits the raise, but the Senate has passed a proposal calling for a 1.9 percent increase. Without congressional action, Trump’s letter essentially blocks the automated 2.1 percent increase planned for 2019 from going into effect.
There were 5,261 federal employees working in Nassau County, and 11,294 in Suffolk as of March 2017, the most recent figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Federal employee unions denounced Trump’s decision, casting it as an attack on the federal workforce.
American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox. Sr. said in a statement: “Federal workers truly are America’s workforce — more than 2 million dedicated and committed federal workers who care for our veterans, support our military, protect our environment, and help working families make ends meet. More than one-third are veterans themselves, while many more work to support spouses or children who are actively serving.”