In a letter to Congressional leaders, President Trump has announced a pay freeze for all civilian federal employees in 2019. The decision will not impact active duty service members who are still are expected to receive a 2.6% pay raise next year.
The decision aims to circumvent a 2.1% across the board increase and additional locality pay increases that would average 25.7%. "We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases. Accordingly, I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my authority to set alternative across-the-board and locality pay adjustments for 2019."
In the letter, the President disputed the notion that locality pay was important for keeping and attracting quality applicants for positions. Currently, the Veterans Health Administration has more than 40,000 job openings.
"I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero. These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce.
President Trump had already included the pay freeze in his budget proposal. While Congress can override the President's decision, congressional action is not expected.