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Federal agencies directed to hold off on shutdown raises

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agencies have been directed to hold off enacting pay raises for top administration officials during a government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay.

The guidance was issued Friday in a memo from Margaret Weichert, the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management.

Senior Whitehouse political appointees were poised to receive annual raises of about $10,000 a year, that included Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators and even Vice President Mike Pence, according to the Washington Post.

In the memo, Weichert writes that, “In the current absence of Congressional guidance,” 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.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said earlier Friday that the administration was “aware of the issue” and “exploring options to prevent this from being implemented while some federal workers are furloughed.”

Trump had also told reporters at a press conference 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, a Democrat, 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.

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