Republicans have pushed through the House a bill that would freeze the wages of federal workers for a third year and bar members of Congress from giving themselves a pay raise.
Over 200,000 workers inside the Beltway are employed by the federal government, with many more in the surrounding suburbs.
Republican sponsors said their measure, which would freeze federal worker wages through 2013, would save taxpayers $26 billion. It would not apply to military personnel.
Many Democrats objected to the freeze, arguing that federal workers already had done their part in reducing budget deficits. President Barack Obama is expected to propose a 0.5 percent hike in federal employee wages in this 2013 budget proposal.
But some Democrats were also reluctant to cast an election-year vote Wednesday that would suggest they support giving themselves a pay raise. The salaries of rank-and-file members of Congress has remained at $174,000 since 2009.