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Trump cancels federal employee pay increases, citing financial concerns

President Trump has told Congress he is canceling a pay raise that most civilian federal employees were due to receive in January, citing budgetary constraints.

Mr. Trump informed House and Senate leaders in a letter sent Thursday. The president says in the letter that locality pay increases would cost $25 billion, on top of a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for most civilian government employees.

That's roughly the same amount that his border wall is expected to cost, and the GOP-pushed tax cuts are projected to add billions to the federal deficit. 

The president said he's determined that for 2019 "both across-the-board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero."

"We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," Mr. Trump wrote. 

Democrats seized on the news, and some Republicans like Rep. Barbara Comstock — a vulnerable Republican this November with lots of federal employees as constituents in her Northern Virginia district — also voiced opposition. 

"I strongly oppose eliminating the pay raise for civilian federal employees and will work with my colleagues to have the pay raise included in our appropriations," Comstock said in a statement. "Our public servants have been getting shortchanged for years; including three years of pay freezes under the Obama administration." 

"We cannot balance the budget on the backs of our federal employees and I will work with my House and Senate colleagues to keep the pay increase in our appropriations measures that we vote on in September," she continued.