President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday to freeze civilian federal workers pay in 2019. Photo by Zach Gibson/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump carried out a plan he announced this summer by signing an executive order to freeze non-military federal workers' 2019 pay.
As federal workers deal with a partial government shutdown that may cause them to be furloughed or have to work without pay beginning in January, they will also lose a scheduled raise in pay for the year.
The pay freeze is due to an executive order Trump signed Friday evening.
It will affect around 2 million civilian federal workers who will not receive 2.1 percent pay raises for 2019.
Trump announced the plan to freeze the civilian federal workers' pay in August, saying the nation's budget could not sustain scheduled raises. The order cancels yearly payment adjustments based on the region of the country where workers are located, called the "locality pay increase," set to take effect next year.
"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," Trump said at the time of his announcement of the planned freeze.
The order does not affect a 2.6 percent pay raise for U.S. military authorized in a defense spending bill.
Negotiations to reopen the government have stalled over Trump's demand for some $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nearly 800,000 workers are on furlough or working without pay because of the shutdown.
"This is just pouring salt into the wound," said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union. "It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don't even deserve a modest pay increase."
The Senate had proposed a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal workers starting Jan. 1, but that bill was left hanging, allowing a scheduled raise of 2.1 percent to go into effect by default without Trump's actions.
Congress, which will soon have Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, could pass a spending bill to allow the pay raises and apply it retroactively if needed, but Trump would have to sign it for it to take effect.