A 2016 pay raise for federal workers cleared another key hurdle recently.
A powerful and influential Senate appropriations committee declined to insert any language addressing federal workers’ pay into a major government spending bill for next fiscal year.
That means Senate lawmakers have taken a pass at denying President Obama’s stated intention to raise fed salaries across the board by 1.3 percent.
In June, House lawmakers also passed on their opportunity to deny or alter the president’s plan to hike fed pay when a key House appropriations committee decided not to insert any language addressing fed salaries into the fiscal year 2016 spending bill.
With both bodies of Congress staying mum on federal pay, it remains more likely that they won’t try to block the president’s attempt to enact a salary increase.
The president’s 2016 budget blueprint released earlier this year called for a 1.3 percent across-the-board raise.
Since the House and Senate are not bound to follow the president’s budget, they can modify the president’s desired appropriations, including federal pay, through a series of legislative maneuvers.
Inserting amendments or language into the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act 2016 is one avenue lawmakers can use to exert their influence over the president’s request. However, while that bill passed key House and Senate committees, it has yet to go before both bodies for vote.
Fed pay remains a contentious issue in Congress and in the federal workforce, especially after federal workers weathered years of pay freezes and constant partisan bickering over their salaries.
President Obama raised federal pay in 2014 and 2015 through executive orders. That resulted in consecutive 1 percent across-the-board raises.
Normally, federal pay increases are dictated by the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990. The act calculates fed pay hike based on the Employment Cost Index. According to Government Executive, under the act, federal workers would see a pay hike of about 1.8 percent.
For the most part, presidents have set fed pay on their own terms, ignoring the law, which they are allowed to do.
The president must still make a formal declaration of his intention to raise fed pay by August 31. Hypothetically, the president could declare a higher pay raise or pull back on the administration’s stated intention to raise pay 1.3 percent, as declared in the president’s budget blueprint.
It’s a wait-and-see game for now. But it appears likely federal workers will receive some form of pay hike next year.
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