Obama to propose 1 percent pay hike for federal employees

President Obama will propose a 1 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees in the administration’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal, the Washington Post has learned.

At the same time, the House plans to vote soon on legislation that would extend the current freeze on basic pay rates through the end of calendar 2013. The freeze was originally set for two years and scheduled to expire at the end of last year, but it was extended until a temporary budget measure expires next month.

When the measure expires, federal employees will receive a 0.5 percent  raise for the remainder of 2013, unless blocked by congressional action.

A 1 percent increase is less than the 1.8 percent raise that automatically would kick in for 2014 under a law that requires a pay increase pegged to wage growth in the private sector. Last year, wages in the private sector grew 1.8 percent.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) would block the 0.5 percent increase. He said the planned raise shows Obama’s “penchant for unrestrained spending … we simply cannot afford this unnecessary and unilateral action by the president. This bill rescinds the president’s action and makes clear that the federal workforce – including cabinet secretaries, members of Congress  and other salaried employees – will not receive an across-the-board pay increase this year.”

But another Republican, Rep. Frank Wolf (Va.), disagrees. In a letter sent Friday to his Republican colleagues, Wolf urged a “no” vote on the bill.

“Let’s be honest: This bill is nothing more than a political stunt that targets the hardworking, dedicated men and women of the civil service, who have already had their salaries frozen for more than two years,” Wolf wrote. ” Everyone knows they are an easy target. But we are kidding ourselves if we think we can balance the budget on the backs of federal employees. It’s a drop in the bucket towards deficit reduction and a hollow gesture absent meaningful mandatory spending reforms.  Worse, this is just busywork as our economy faces the sequestration meat ax.”

federaldiary@washpost.com

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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