WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn fought unsuccessfully Thursday for a federal hiring freeze of “nonessential” employees as federal agencies confront mandatory spending cuts.
By a vote of 54 to 45, senators shot down an amendment by Coburn to a bill to keep the government running through September; the vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans backing Coburn's proposal.
Coburn, R-Muskogee, argued that federal agencies had posted “thousands of new federal jobs” since the spending cuts went into effect two weeks ago.
The U.S. Air Force, which is threatening to furlough tens of thousands of workers, wants to hire several painters, Coburn said. The Department of Health and Human Services posted a job opening for a “travel specialist” that would get paid a minimum of $97,000 a year, Coburn said, adding that the department should be cutting back on its travel rather than hiring someone to make it easier.
The Federal Aviation Administration has job openings for two “community planners” and four “management and program assistants,” Coburn said. Keeping those positions open, he said, would spare as many as 1,000 air traffic controllers from one furlough day.