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) -- President Barack Obama announced a two-year pay freeze for federal employees Monday.

In an effort to reduce the growing deficit facing the U.S., the Obama administration said Monday it will freeze pay for all civilian federal workers, including Department of Defense employees.

The salary freeze will not apply to military personnel but to all civilian employees on the federal payroll roster.

Congress must first approve the proposal for it to take effect.

The pay freeze should result in savings of upwards of $5 billion in federal spending over the proposed two-year period, $28 billion over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over 10 years.

Five billion dollars is a mere slice of the $1.3 trillion budget deficit, but the message the pay freeze sends to Americans could signal the White House is responding to criticism from Republicans accusing the president and the Democratic party of overspending, including an $814 billion stimulus package and healthcare reform.

"Just as families and businesses around the nations are tightening their belts in this economy, so must the government," said White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.

Obama has countered that the deficit was largely left over from the policies of President George W. Bush, who led the U.S. into two largely-unpaid-for wars.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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