WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Friday to extend a pay freeze for federal workers, already in effect for more than two years, for another nine months.

Republicans, who largely backed the measure, said it would save $11 billion in the long run and that economically secure public servants could go a little longer without a raise.

Most Democrats, and the White House, criticized the bill as an example of anti-government bias and said Republicans, instead of debating a bill that has little chance of advancing in the Democratic-controlled Senate, should be concentrating on avoiding the pending automatic cuts to federal programs that could have a painful effect on the economy.

The House measure, approved on a 261-154 vote, blocks an executive order issued by President Barack Obama last December that would give the nation's 2 million civilian federal workers a 0.5 percent cost-of-living raise from March 27, when the current federal spending agreement expires, through the end of the year.

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