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House Republicans raise union ire with bill blocking pay raises

House Republicans on Friday blocked a President Obama-sponsored pay raise hike for federal workers. But the Democrat-controlled Senate won't cave so quickly.

They face the ire of the union, which has been pushing hard for Congress to approve the 0.5 percent pay hike for the nation's 2 million civilian federal employees.

National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen Kelley called the House bill to block the raises "a particularly galling step in light of the fact that federal workers have contributed far more than any other group to economic recovery and deficit reduction," according to The Associated Press.

Ms. Kelley also said the Republican argument is that the pay hikes, at $11 billion, is just too costly for a national economy that can't run from its 7-plus percent unemployment rate. She said the freeze that's been in place for three years — combined with new mandates to hike the level of pension contributions required of new federal sector workers — would actually save taxpayers $103 billion in the next decade, according to AP.

Union members and pay raise supporters also see the salary hike, pushed by Mr. Obama last year, as a cost-saver, rather than revenue-drainer.

Supporters argue that public employees who hold critical positions — scientist, foreign service officers, CIA analysts and the like — could make much more money in the private sector. The government has to compete to keep them from leaving, according to the AP report.

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