Trump cancels planned January pay increase for civilian federal workers

President Donald Trump

And so far, the administration has not threatened to veto the spending bill if it includes a pay raise.

In a notice to Congress Thursday, Trump cited "serious economic conditions" in cutting pay to civilian workers.

The federal deficit has exploded under Trump, with the advent of the GOP tax law that is projected to cost $1.9 trillion over the course of a decade, as well as a bipartisan spending deal that increased discretionary spending by almost $300 billion in 2018 and 2019. The president last year signed a package of tax cuts that is forecast to expand the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Gerald E. Connolly, who said Trump was "feeling cornered and lashing out by cancelling a modest, planned pay increase for our dedicated federal workforce".

The pay freeze comes less than a week after a federal judge in Washington overturned parts of three Trump executive orders attempting to curtail the power of federal labor unions and institute merit-based pay systems for federal employees.

While Trump has yet to propose reducing spending on big-ticket items such as defense or entitlements, he is trying to trim the decicit by changing how federal employees are paid.

President Donald Trump talks on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans, Thursday, January 26, 2017.

Trump said the pay freeze would not "materially affect" the federal government's ability to recruit qualified workers.

"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets can not sustain such increases", said Trump. Federal workers have been hit with the negative news while troops are experiencing the opposite since they will get a 2.6 per cent increase next year.

"Zero. This seems to be how much respect President Trump has for federal workers", wrote Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called it "the latest attack in the Trump Administration's war on federal employees". The national debt - the accumulation of those budget deficits - has increased almost $1.6 trillion over the past year, to $21.4 trillion.

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

"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets can not sustain such increases", he said.

"Accordingly, I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my authority to set alternative across-the-board and locality pay adjustments for 2019".

Trump explained the move in terms of the national debt, now more than $21 trillion, and the annual deficit, expected to be $804 billion in fiscal 2018.

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