As the partial government shutdown drags into week three with no end in sight, hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain without pay. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported, hundreds of senior officials appointed by President Donald Trump are poised to receive their annual raises of close to $10,000 a year.
Scheduled to go into effect on Saturday, January 5, cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators, and Vice President Pence will be entitled to the pay bump without any legislation to stop it, a seemingly "unintended consequence" of the shutdown.
In 2013, the Post reported, Congress enacted a law that put a cap on pay for top federal executives that has been annually renewed ever since, but after lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill on December 21 leading to the partial shutdown, the pay freeze lapsed. This means that enormous raises that have accumulated over the course of the last five years will be added to paychecks issued as early as next week.
To put the raises into perspective, cabinet secretaries would be entitled to jump from an annual salary of $199,700 to $210,000; Vice President Pence will see a new annual income of $243,500 versus the $230,700 he had annual earned in the past.
Meanwhile, not only are 800,000 federal employees either furloughed or working without pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, but President Trump issued an executive order before the new year that puts a pay freeze on their salaries for 2019, CNN reported. Federal workers were set to receive a 2.1 percent "across-the-board" raise that would have taken place this month before the president issued the order on Friday, December 28.
Democrats have harshly criticized the raises as those entitled to them prepare to see their first pay bump, including New York Rep. Nita Lowey, who told the Washington Post that the "advantageous" move was "outrageous" as a majority of federal workers remain unsure of when their next paycheck will come.
Virginia Rep. Don Beyer explained that the pay increases appear to be the president protecting the people he brought on board while "everyone else gets screwed. Beyer also suggested the president immediately issue another executive order to cancel the raises and fix the problem.
"I suspect the president isn't aware of the disparity--that political appointees will get a pay raise and no one else will," John Palguta, former career executive in the federal government for human resources, told the Washington Post. "It's going to be seen as terribly unfair."
The White House has not yet responded to the news outlet's comment request.