Federal agencies directed to hold off raises for top officials during shutdown

Vice President Mike Pence with acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in December

US Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump administration officials met today with Democratic congressional staffers to try to break a deadlock over a proposed border wall and end a two-week-old partial government shutdown.

The latest guidance on the pay raises was issued Friday in a memo from Margaret Weichert, the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

When lawmakers failed to pass bills on December 21 to fund multiple federal agencies, they allowed an existing pay freeze to expire, the paper reported.

That means the pay raise will go into effect tomorrow unless Congress moves to extend the pay freeze for the officials in question.

Cabinet secretaries making $199,700 per year will see their pay jump to $210,700 annually; deputy secretaries will see an increase from $179,700 to $189,600.

The meeting also included Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner, according to Pence's Press Secretary Alyssa Farah.

US President Donald Trump is demanding $5.6bn to build a wall along the US border with Mexico but Democrats - in control of the House of Representatives - passed a bill this week to reopen the government without providing additional funding for the wall.

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Those on the job and not being paid include airline security officers from the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, and others.

The scheduled raises appeared to be an unintended effect of the government shutdown, The Associated Press reported.

If Congress does not take action by January 5, hundreds of senior officials including Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators will receive the unpaid raises that have accumulated over the past five years.

The government's Office of Personnel Management did not respond to a request for comment.

The shutdown has left 800,000 federal employees on furlough or working without pay. An administration official later said Pence's staff believes he has to accept the raise during the shutdown and pay taxes on it, but will reimburse the Treasury or donate the pay to charity.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the raises "outrageous" in a statement and called on McConnell to allow a Senate vote on the House measure, reopen government and provide retroactive pay to affected federal employees.

President Donald Trump prudently stayed in Washington, D.C., over the holidays while he forced the federal government to shut down, knowing that the optics of his planned trip to Mar-a-Lago would have been awful.

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