Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Daschle and Pelosi Call for Bush to Rescind Cash Bonuses to Political Appointees, Restore Pay for Federal Employees

December 5, 2002

Washington, D.C. -- Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader-Elect Nancy Pelosi today called on President Bush to immediately reverse his decision to award cash bonuses to top political appointees and to restore a scheduled pay increase to middle and lower-income federal workers.

“Offering cash bonuses to political loyalists while cutting back on pay increases to rank and file federal workers is a slap in the face to those who have been the backbone of our fight against terror,” said Rep. Pelosi. “This action, on top of the Administration’s decision this week to postpone sending $1.5 billion for anti-terrorism assistance to local police departments, demonstrates a pattern of disrespect and broken promises to those workers on the front line in the domestic war against terrorism. The White House has once again rewarded its political friends at the expense of hard-working Americans, including law enforcement officials and public health workers.”

“These kinds of cash bonuses to political appointees were banned because they were abused in the past,” said Senator Daschle. “The fact that the Bush Administration has decided, in secret, to bring them back is just the latest demonstration of how misplaced this Administration’s priorities are. After all, this is the same White House that says the federal government can’t afford bonuses for FBI agents. This is the same White House that vetoed a bill containing funds to hire 75,000 new firefighters and to increase security at America's ports and nuclear power plants. It's also the same White House that refused to support extending unemployment benefits for the nearly 1 million Americans who are out of work and about to run out of jobless benefits. And it's the same White House that says the government can't afford a cost of living increase for Social Security recipients that would allow them to keep pace with the cost of living.”

On November 27, President Bush announced that because of the war on terrorism, the country could not afford a scheduled pay increase designed to make federal salaries more competitive with private sector salaries. Instead of the promised 4.1 percent increase, 1.8 million federal workers will receive a raise of only 3.1 percent.

Just days later, news reports revealed that the Administration has been planning for months to reinstate a policy that makes several thousand political appointees eligible for annual bonuses of up to $25,000. Political appointees typically earn up to $140,000 a year, while the average civilian, non-political federal employee earns $45,000 a year.