- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) Citing a state of national emergency brought on by last year's terrorist attacks, President Bush slashed yesterday the 18.6 percent locality pay raises most civilian federal workers were to receive starting in January.
In a letter sent yesterday to congressional leaders, Mr. Bush announced that he was using his authority to change workers' pay structure in times of national emergency or "serious economic conditions" and was limiting raises to the 3.1 percent across-the-board boost.
Military personnel will receive a 4.1 percent increase.
That means the additional so-called locality-based payments would remain at current levels because "our national situation precludes granting larger pay increases at this time," Mr. Bush said.
The White House estimated that the average locality-based pay increase would have amounted to about 18.6 percent.
Mr. Bush said that granting the full raises would cost about $13.6 billion in 2003, or $11.2 billion more than he proposed for the year, a cost the nation can't bear as it continues to battle the war against terror.
Under a law passed in 1990, federal employees covered by the government's general-schedule pay system would receive a two-part pay increase with the new year, a 3.1 percent across-the-board increase plus a locality pay raise based on private-sector wage changes.
This law outlining federal pay kicks in because Congress has not yet passed the appropriations legislation directing a specific increase, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
The White House couldn't say exactly how many federal employees the change would affect but said it would be almost all.
The White House quietly released the letter to journalists via e-mail late yesterday, the middle of a long holiday weekend, when most Americans were apt to be paying little attention.
Officials of unions representing federal workers could not immediately be reached for comment.
Miss Call said the locality-based payments have rarely gone into effect since their creation in 1990, either because President Clinton limited them or Congress prescribed other salary increases.


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