"I want to say to the federal employees, thank you for your work. I wanted to do it with a modest pay raise, but right now the duty and the situation that I find myself reluctantly in is that the way I serve you best is to make sure there is no government shutdown," said Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, whose state of Maryland is home to 130,000 federal workers, on the floor of the Senate. "This bill will continue the existing pay freeze. It's necessary to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. Shutting down the government would make a tough situation even worse for federal employees."
The proposed raise for federal workers, who have not had a cost of living adjustment for two years, was 0.5 percent.
Federal workers have already sacrificed $103 billion toward deficit reduction through pay freezes and changes to their retirement system. In addition to this continuation of the current pay freeze, many will lose up to 20 percent of their pay through furloughs over the next several months. Speaking to the Senate, Mikulski explained who these workers are:
"They're people who work at the National Institutes of Health finding cures or ways to contain disease—the next vaccine to help either the flu endemic or protect us against a pandemic. They're the civilian employees at the National Security Agency.That's work Republicans don't want to pay for. And once again they've taken these workers hostage, using the threat of a government shutdown to get Democrats to make big concessions.
"We employ the largest number of mathematicians in the world. And what do they do? They invent the kinds of technology that breaks the codes and protects us in the new cyber domain. They're the people who run the weather satellites. The European model might have done a better job predicting the storm last week, but you know why? Because we haven't had the resources to fund the weather service the way the Europeans have."