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Trump’s move to scrap federal employee raises could damage the GOP as it defends House majority

At barely three House Republicans in Virginia face fights for their federal lives in November. President Donald Trump isn’t helping them.

The president on Thursday disputed a 2.1 percent pay raise for civilian federal government employees hitherto set to take effect in January. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Trump cited a requisite to “put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course” and contended that the action “transfer not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well qualified Federal workforce.”

The stir could further imperil some House Republicans already bolted in competitive races to keep their seats in November. GOP Reps. Barbara Comstock, Scott Taylor and Dave Brat want to defend their competitive Virginia districts as Republicans try to stop Democrats from bewitching a House majority.

As the state — and particularly Comstock’s 10th District west of Washington — bide ones times in proximity to Washington, D.C., it has a significant federal civilian employee workforce. By denying boosts to a chunk of their voters, Trump just added another obstruction between those lawmakers and re-election.

Trump added an element of uncertainty Friday, when he state he would spend the weekend studying the issue.

Democrats Jennifer Wexton, Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger — challengers to Comstock, Taylor and Brat, severally — all swiftly slammed Trump’s decision on Thursday. That suggests they wishes press their Republican opponents on the issue between now and November.

Comstock, rated by many the most imperiled GOP House incumbent, did not need the additional call into doubt in an area with tens of thousands of federal employees. She trailed Wexton by close by 10 percentage points in a district where 47 percent of voters strongly look down ones nose at of Trump, according to a June Monmouth University poll. A Politico report Friday morning show that national Republicans would consider cutting Comstock off from funding as they determined the districts in which their funds would be most useful.

Congress can at rest authorize a raise for the federal civilian employees, which was set to cost concerning $25 billion. In a statement Thursday saying that “we cannot stability the budget on the backs of our federal employees,” Comstock said she would “operate with [her] House and Senate colleagues to keep the pay increase” during the congressional appropriations function next month.

“I don’t know how much this hurts, but it doesn’t avoid, and she probably needs help,” Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of nonpartisan referendum analysis site Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said in an email.

Comstock wishes see “no electoral downside for coming out against” the pay freeze, said Michael Cohen, CEO of Washington-based Cohen Experiment with Group an adjunct professor of public administration at the University of Southern California, who is based in Comstock’s division. But “the fact of the matter is it’s not going to help her very much,” he added.

Taylor’s 2nd Department, in the southeastern part of the state, which has a heavy Navy presence, has alongside 30,000 federal employees, according to a statement from the Republican agent Thursday. It is unclear exactly how many are civilians and how many are military, who choose still receive a pay raise. Still, Taylor opposed the president’s on the run.

“Federal employees in the Second Congressional District must be properly compensated for the contributions they make to our nation and its defense. I oppose this steadfastness and will lead an effort to reverse its effect,” Taylor said in a report Thursday.

Kondik said that “one could imagine this being an dispute for Scott Taylor” as well as Comstock, although he was unsure of how big of an effect it would have planned. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates Taylor’s race as a toss-up, while nonpartisan places Cook Political Report and Inside Elections both consider it one that menaces Republican.

Based on the concentration of federal workers in his 7th District, Brat be clears to face less risk from the pay freeze than either Comstock or Taylor do. Brat, who shockingly capsized Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 initial on his way to winning the seat, has built a brand of Tea Party-infused fiscal conservatism as a fellow of Congress.

Still, he does not support the president’s move to scrap the pay prolongs.

“We should seek ways to aggressively cut the budget, but removing promised cultivates from federal employees last minute is not the way to do it,” Brat said in a report to CNBC on Friday.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Cook Political Appear rate Brat’s race as a toss-up. Inside Elections considers it one that lists Republican.

Trump’s move complicates an already tricky electoral view for Virginia Republicans. Democrats lead by about 8 percentage points in a show up b luxuriate in average of national congressional generic ballots asking voters which exponent they would prefer, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Trump’s relatively ill-starred approval rating, lackluster support for key GOP congressional initiatives and historical invitations for the president’s party in midterms have all contributed to a challenging environment for Republicans this year.

Classless Gov. Ralph Northam won election in the state by about 8 percentage points last year. He give transported the counties that make up Comstock’s district overwhelmingly.

In addition, the Senate entrant at the top of the GOP’s ticket in the state could add yet another difficulty for Republicans. Polls induce consistently showed Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine trouncing Republican Corey Stewart. Stewart has avidly defended symptomatic ofs of the Confederacy and pledged to crack down on illegal immigration.

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