Across-the-board pay raises for civilian workers in the federal government have been canceled by President Donald Trump. An across-the-board 2.1 percent pay increase for federal workers was slated to take effect in January. The action means that roughly 1.8 million people won’t get that automatic pay boost next year.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the president wrote: “In light of our nation’s fiscal situation, federal employee pay must be performance-based.” However, some are saying that this is just the latest attempt by the president to harm government employee unions. Critics point to a soaring economy that surged 4.2 percent last quarter, as well as the questionable move that members of the military will still get a 2.6 percent raise, the largest in a decade, as indications that there is something else behind the raise cancelation.

Congress can overrule the President’s edict if lawmakers pass a spending bill that includes a federal pay raise. The Senate has already backed a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees this year. The bill being debated in the House does not deal with the pay raises. Senate and House negotiators will negotiate a final measure in the coming weeks.

In addition, the Trump Administration is canceling a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where a worker is posted, called the “locality pay increase.” Under that program, workers based in more expensive parts of the country are paid higher salaries to compensate for the higher cost of living. In his letter, the president wrote the locality increase in 2019 would average 25.70 percent and cost the federal government $25 billion.

The backlash to the move came from across the federal government. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said in a statement, “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.” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said, “Congress can and must stand up to the President and reject this assault on our federal workers by passing the 1.9 percent pay raise that the Senate approved on August 1.”