While 800,000 federal workers are currently either working without pay or furloughed and not entitled to retroactive pay, President Donald Trump’s top appointees as well as Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to get pay raises averaging about $10,000 per year on Saturday—and the shutdown is to blame for the glaring inequity.
An executive pay freeze, which caps the salaries of top government employees and has been in place since 2013, lapsed on Dec. 21 because Congress was unable to pass the spending bill in which it was included, leading to the government shutdown that’s now gone on for two weeks.
Without the salary caps in place, Pence is entitled to a $13,000 raise on Saturday, bringing his compensation to $243,500 per year. Cabinet secretaries will be given raises of about $11,000, bringing their pay to $210,000, while their deputies and other top agency administrators will be given significant raises as well.
On social media, critics were incensed Friday at the hypocrisy of cabinet members collecting raises while employees go without any pay at all.
Vice President Mike Pence is getting a raise this week. So are Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Mick Mulvaney and Kirstjen Nielsen. All while 800,000 federal workers aren't getting paid.
— Swing Left (@swingleft) January 4, 2019
This is quite the conflict of interest: The shutdown has enabled large raises for Trump administration officials by lifting a pay freeze. Pence alone is due a $13K hike he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. https://t.co/WEVFeK86CK pic.twitter.com/sJFnYxKimn
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) January 4, 2019
The news of the executive pay raises was especially galling for many due to the executive order Trump signed just last week, freezing the pay of about two million public employees in 2019. The president claimed the government can’t afford a 2.1 percent raise for workers, in a move that National Treasury Employees Union president Toney Reardon likened to “pouring salt into the wound.”
At the end of the first day of the new session of Congress on Thursday, House Democrats pushed through a bill to reinstate the executive pay freeze and reopen parts of the government without funding Trump’s border wall. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote on the bill, calling the raises expected Saturday “outrageous.”
“I call on Leader McConnell to allow the Senate to vote on the measures House Democrats passed last night to end the Trump shutdown, reopen government, and provide retroactive pay to those who have been forced to go without a paycheck as a result of the president’s temper tantrum,” Hoyer said in a statement.