President Donald Trump announced on Thursday his plan to freeze automatic pay raises for civilian federal employees in fiscal year 2019 in order to "put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course."
In his official notification letter to Congress, Trump cited his legal authority to halt any pay increases.
"Title 5, United States Code, authorizes me to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of ‘national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,’ I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate," Trump said.
In the letter, sent to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), Trump said the government could not sustain the scheduled increases.
"We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," he said.
The pay increases would cost the federal government at least an addition $25 billion, according to the president.
"Specifically, I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero," Trump said. "These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce."
Trump also said federal employees' compensation should be performance-based as opposed to automatic.
"As noted in my Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, the cost of employing the Federal workforce is significant. 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. "Across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases, in particular, have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals."