People in southern Missouri always tell me they wish their federal government budgeted more like a family farm or small business – operating within its limits, balancing its books, and only rewarding employees when they do well. I couldn’t agree more. It’s why one of the first bills I introduced when I came to Congress was a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. Families in Missouri have to live within their means, and so should the federal government. This week Speaker Pelosi took a step to move the government in the exact opposite direction, spending $5 billion to give across-the-board pay raises to every federal employee – just for showing up to work.
I was hoping Speaker Pelosi’s first major act now that the government is open would be actually negotiating with President Trump to properly secure the border, especially since border patrol agents seized the largest amount of fentanyl ever attempted to be smuggled into the U.S. at the southern border this week. Instead, she pushed a government-wide pay raise for all two million federal employees to the tune of roughly $5 billion, regardless if they show up on time, are any good at their jobs, or provide any value to the American taxpayer. Forgetting for a moment that this is roughly the same amount of money Speaker Pelosi has refused to spend on the President’s request for physical border security, this is an ill-timed, not well-thought-out pay raise. In the height of hypocrisy, she pushed this pay raise through the U.S. House without any way to pay for it, breaking the very rules her caucus passed just weeks ago promising to pay for every bill they pass. She thinks no-one is paying attention or will hold her accountable for breaking their word.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the average federal employee already makes 17 percent more than their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, the average federal employee takes in tens of thousands more than the average household in southern Missouri. Federal employees also receive 47% more in benefits than private sector employees. At a time when our government has a severe spending problem, I can’t support sending more Missouri tax dollars to Washington to give every single federal employee a raise without even considering their job performance or if they are providing any benefit to the taxpayer.
Where I come from, you work hard day in and day out, and you don’t get a raise just for showing up to work. Pay raises should be merit-based, not for just punching the clock and putting in time behind a desk. Once it became clear that we didn’t have the votes to stop Nancy Pelosi from ramming through the sweeping pay raise, we asked her to at least make a simple change – to bar employees accused of sexual misconduct from receiving the pay increase. Shamefully, she whipped her members to vote down that sensible change, and the original bill passed to give every federal employee a salary bump, regardless of sexual harassment complaints against them or problems with their job performance.
This week marks ‘Thank a Farmer Week’ in Missouri. I can think of no other group of folks more deserving of a pay raise than southern Missouri’s farmers. That’s why when we wrote the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, President Trump and I cut taxes for farms of all sizes, allowing hardworking Americans to keep more of their money. Washington has a spending problem, and too many folks here forget whose money they’re spending. I believe that money belongs in the pockets of the people who operate a small business, work the land, grow crops, and produce agricultural products, instead of padding the pockets of the people who write misguided rules, often making it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to do their jobs.
This week came and went without us being any closer to a deal to prevent another government shutdown. I hope next week Speaker Pelosi will focus on securing the border, instead of growing the government.