The U.S. House votes today on a bill that would extend a pay freeze for federal employees through the rest of 2013. It would block a small salary increase set to go into effect next month. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, has some of the details.
On the kind of impact extending the pay freeze would have on the federal budget: "When I say things like 'not much,' people get angry, because it's only about half a billion dollars. What the congressional budget office and others say is if you continue this freeze for 10 years, it would save about $11 billion, but this is only for half of one year, so it's only about $500 million. Plus, of course, we shouldn't forget... that the members of Congress would also see their salary freeze continue. It's handled under a separate law. That would save, however, less than $2 million. [The House is voting on this today]. It is expected to pass — it will pass. It is a political slam-dunk."
On how the debate is affecting the federal workforce in terms of morale: "Confused and dispirited... I'm not a federal worker, so I can't say for sure. But I bet confused and dispirited. One of the oldest adages of federal policymaking is to give your constituents certainty. Just make a decision... sooner or later, it is uncertainty that is wobbly on the economy, that is wobbly on morale."
On the across-the-board spending cuts and additional specifics on how federal agencies would respond: "The Senate Police Chief has told the operation to expect furloughs if this sequester takes effect. Now I believe the sequester — which in theory, will take effect on March 1 — under the law, would need a month to take effect and kick in. Federal employees are required to have a month's notice. And the notion is that by the end of March, the real budget debate is coming."
Listen to the full analysis here.