H.R. 273: A bill to eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees

H.R. 273

A bill to eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees

Sen. Bernard Sanders

February 14, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Thursday, February 14, 2013, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 273, a bill to eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for federal employees, under a rule.  H.R. 273 was introduced by Representative DeSantis (R-FL) on January 15, 2013.  The bill has 38 cosponsors

Bill Summary

H.R. 273 continues the freeze on federal employee pay adjustments through December 31, 2013.  The pay adjustment freeze applies to federal employees and officials, including Members of Congress, Members of the President’s Cabinet and the Vice President.


On December 27, 2012, the President issued Executive Order #13635 that provides an across the board pay adjustment of 0.5 percent for federal civilian employees.  The executive order was issued in anticipation of the expiration of the current freeze contained in H.J.Res. 117, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, which will expire on March 27, 2013.[i]   Because of the way federal pay adjustments are calculated, the executive order triggered an automatic pay adjustment for Members of Congress in addition to federal employees and officials.[ii]  In response to its scheduled pay adjustment, Congress continued its freeze at 2009 levels through FY 2013 in H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. [iii]

Over the last decade, the average federal civilian salary has increased by 62 percent – from $51,518 to $83,679.[iv]  At the same time, the average private sector salary reached $51,986 in 2010.[v]   When benefits are factored in, total compensation packages for federal employees top $126,141 compared to $62,757 in the private sector.[vi]  The President’s announcement, which will cost taxpayers more than $10 billion over ten years, comes at a time when automatic spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013.  It is also worth noting that the President is expected to include a 1.0 percent pay adjustment in his FY 2014 budget and union leaders have called on the President to increase that percentage.[vii]

[i] See PL 111-242 as amended by PL 112-175.

[ii] See CRS report, Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables, page2.

[iii] See PL -112-175.

[iv] See http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/overpaid-federal-workers.

[v] See id.

[vi] See id.

[vii] See http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/282089-union-head-complains-obama-pay-raise-proposal-not-enough.


According to CBO, H.R. 273 would save approximately $11 billion over ten years.

Additional Information

Key Policy Points

  • The current pay adjustment freeze for federal employees and officials ends on March 27, 2013
  • Congress continued its pay adjustment freeze at 2009 levels through FY 2013
  • Unless, Congress acts, federal employees will see a 0.5 percent pay increase, regardless of merit, in the first applicable pay period after the expiration of the CR

Key Messaging Point

  • With the automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on March 1, 2013, the Administration should be looking at ways to reduce spending not increase it.