Do Virginia lawmakers back a federal pay freeze?
House Republicans will try to force a vote* Thursday on a proposal to cut the 1.4 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers that President Obama asked for in his budget for 2011. The vote will mark the second time the GOP has brought a measure to the floor that was selected via their YouCut online poll.
The federal pay freeze proposal is the brainchild of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.). But the overall YouCut program is being run by Rep. Eric Cantor (R), who, in addition to being the House minority whip is also a Virginian. And Virginia is chock full of federal employees. According to the Office of Personnel Management, Virginia has the second-most non-defense federal employees in the country, behind only California. (That ranking includes only states. The District has slightly more federal workers than Virginia, while Maryland has slightly fewer.)
Despite that demographic fact, Cantor supports the proposal to freeze federal pay and will vote that way. "This vote won't be easy for everyone, but it is exactly the kind of choice we must begin to make to get us off the path towards financial ruin," he said Tuesday on the House floor. But what about Cantor's fellow Virginia lawmakers?
"I'm opposed to it," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R), whose 10th district includes a wide swath of Northern Virginia suburbs.
Wolf noted that the pay freeze would apply to scores of federal employees -- many of whom reside in his district -- who he considers to be heroes, from the CIA employees who have died in Afghanistan, to FBI agents working at home and abroad, to National Institutes of Health scientists working to cure diseases.
As the co-sponsor of a prominent proposal to create a federal debt commission, Wolf said he was all in favor of identifying ways to cut spending. And he likes the general idea of YouCut, since "it's good to find out what people are interested in."
But Wolf doesn't want federal employees put on the chopping block.
"I just don't think it's the right approach," Wolf said.
Wolf was willing to speak out on the subject, but some of his colleagues may not be. Virginia GOP Reps. Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte and Rob Wittman did not respond to requests for comment.
Most Democrats from the state are expected to oppose the pay freeze. But their votes are not assured. A spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Perriello (D), who represents the conservative 5th District, said Thursday morning that she wasn't sure how her boss planned to vote.
*Technically, Thursday's vote won't actually be on the federal pay freeze. It will be a procedural vote on the "previous question" to proceed to a tax extenders bill. If that procedural vote fails, then Republicans would try to bring up their pay proposal. So Cantor and other supporters of the pay freeze will vote "no" on the previous question.
May 27, 2010; 10:35 AM ET
Categories: Ben Pershing , Eric Cantor , Frank R. Wolf
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