Federal Employees May Still See Pay Raise from Congress

Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would zero-out previously planned pay increases and locality pay adjustments for federal employees in 2019 -- a proposal that drew widespread and bipartisan criticism from the Hill and a diverse array of governance and employee groups – signs from Congress indicate the matter might not yet be settled.

Erich Wagner at Government Executive writes that, “As lawmakers on Capitol Hill negotiate what should be included in a minibus spending package for the Interior and Environment, Agriculture, Financial Services and other agencies beginning this week, they appear to be facing a close decision on whether civilian federal employees should receive a raise next year.”

The House and Senate have passed spending bills for federal agencies, but the differences between the versions are slated to be worked out in conference committee.

“By the end of last week, both chambers had announced the lawmakers appointed to the conference committee,” Wagner writes. “All senators, Republican and Democrat, voted for the Senate version of the bill, including a pay raise, while nearly half of House conferees have expressed support for the Senate plan.”

Both Republicans and Democrats alike have spoken out in support of the 1.9 percent pay increase included in the Senate plan, with Federal News Radio’s Nicole Ogrysko noting that “more than 180 House Democrats and Republicans at this point have either written to President Donald Trump and asked him to reconsider his plans to freeze pay or have written to congressional leadership in pursuit of a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian employees in 2019.”

“It is hard to think of another group of Americans that has been asked to give more to reduce the national deficit,” the six House Democrats selected to negotiate the spending bill wrote in a letter. “We cannot continue to pretend to balance our budget on the backs of the people who process our Social Security checks, keep our airports secure, fight forest fires, promote public health and protect our homeland.”

Likewise, Republican Congressmen Tom Cole and Scott Taylor joined 21 other Republican representatives on a letter asking the president to reconsider.

“While we applaud efforts to be fiscally responsible, these scheduled pay raises are overdue for our hardworking federal employees and provide incentives to recruit and retain a strong federal workforce,” the representatives wrote. “We urge you to reconsider cancelling the federal civilian employee pay raise set to go into effect January 2019. Our federal civilian workforce deserves this pay raise.”

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