GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart hammers Trump's freeze on federal worker pay

Virginia Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart on Friday called for President Trump to reconsider his decision to cancel a planned pay raise for federal workers.

“Federal employees in Virginia wake up early, face punishing traffic and work hard to serve their nation and support their families,” Stewart, an outspoken supporter of Trump’s, said in an emailed statement reported by The Washington Post.

“These workers need and deserve a pay raise.”

Stewart acknowledged that his push for Trump to reconsider his decision on federal worker pay marks a “rare break” with the president.

“I almost never differ with President Trump, but in this case I do,” he said.

On Thursday, Trump announced that he would cancel a 2.1 percent raise for federal employees.

“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” Trump wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

Lawmakers from both parties quickly criticized the move.

“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,” Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, a vulnerable Republican running for reelection in November, said shortly after the announcement.

But Trump appeared to signal that a pay raise for federal workers could still be in the works while speaking at a ceremony in North Carolina on Friday afternoon. Trump said he’d take a “good hard look” at the issue over the weekend, according to a White House transcript. 

Stewart is facing incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in a bid for Senate this year. Kaine leads Stewart by 23 points, according to a poll from Virginia Commonwealth University released earlier this month.