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Trump sets pay freeze for federal workforce in 2019, citing budget problems

President Trump on Thursday rescinded a pay raise for civilian federal employees in 2019, saying the government can’t afford the scheduled pay increases for the federal workforce.

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Trump said a planned 2.1-percent pay increase across the board, and higher pay raises in some areas, will instead be set at zero at his orders.

“We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Mr. Trump said.

He said federal law authorizes the president to implement “pay adjustments” in cases of national emergency or “serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

“I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate,” Mr. Trump said.

Under current law, “locality” pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, and costing $ 25 billion would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase.

The president said his decision “will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified federal workforce.”

“The cost of employing the federal workforce is significant,” Mr. Trumps said. “In light of our nation’s fiscal situation, federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing federal employees and those with critical skill sets.”

He said across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases “have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission-critical recruitment and retention goals.”

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