WASHINGTON — The White House said Friday it is exploring ways to prevent a pay raise for top administration officials during a government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the administration “is aware of the issue” and “exploring options to prevent this from being implemented while some federal workers are furloughed.”
The raises are the result of a pay freeze for top federal officials, including the vice president and cabinet secretaries, that has been passed repeatedly by Congress but is now on the verge of expiring because of the shutdown.
Trump told reporters at a press conference earlier Friday that he “might consider” asking cabinet secretaries and other top officials to forgo the raises. Vice President Mike Pence committed to doing so.
The raises, which were first reported by The Washington Post, appear to be an unintended consequence of a shutdown that is affecting hundreds of thousands of federal employees, forcing many to work without pay. Trump and congressional leaders met again Friday to try to hash out a resolution, but emerged no closer to a deal. Trump is demanding billions of dollars for his long-promised wall along the southern border. Democrats refuse to give him the money.
Sanders, in her statement, called the raises “another unnecessary byproduct of the shutdown” and put the onus on Congress, saying it “can easily take care of this by funding the government and securing our borders.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on the measures passed by the House Thursday night to re-open the government and provide back pay to those affected by the shutdown.
“It is outrageous that Vice President Pence and hundreds of President Trump’s political appointees will each receive a $10,000 raise while denying paychecks to 800,000 federal employees as they keep the government shut down,” Hoyer said.
The cap has maintained salaries for those top officials at 2013 levels.
The Office of Personnel Management did not respond to a request for comment.