Pay raises frozen for Pence, Cabinet members until shutdown is over

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens to Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

(CNN) – The Office of Personnel Management directed federal agencies to hold off on issuing expected pay raises for a number of senior government officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members, in a memo Friday evening.

Dozens of high-ranking officials were supposed to see an increase in their salary, while hundreds of thousands of federal employees and government contractors are unsure when they will see their next paychecks amid the partial government shutdown.

Last month, Congress failed to extend the pay freeze on the raises, which would have ended effectively on Saturday and let the increases kick in.

But the OPM “believes it would be prudent for agencies to continue to pay these senior political officials at the frozen rate until appropriations legislation is enacted that would clarify the status of the freeze,” Margaret Weichert, the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, wrote in the memo.

OPM plans to issue new guidance once Congress passes updated legislation, Weichert said in the memo.

OPM’s move comes after Trump issued an executive order last week freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, following through on a proposal he announced earlier in the year. The executive order nixed a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January. It does not affect a 2.6% pay increase for US troops that was passed as part of the massive defense spending bill Trump signed in August.

After a news conference Friday, Pence nodded “yes” when asked by reporters if he would turn down the pay raise during the shutdown.

Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and ambassadors were set to see pay increases.

Before the OPM issued its memo, President Donald Trump had said Friday he “might consider” asking these officials to not accept their raises because of the shutdown.

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