As the House on Wednesday took up and passed a spending bill that would keep federal employee salary rates frozen through 2013, a leading House Democrat expressed pessimism that the 0.5 percent raise scheduled for April will be paid.
“The federal employee pay freeze could hold for the remainder of the calendar year because Republican lawmakers insist on targeting these hardworking public servants,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) said in a statement e-mailed by his office. “I strongly oppose their continued efforts to single out federal employees, who have already contributed $103 billion toward deficit reduction and who are the only middle-class workers who have been asked to do so.”
In a press conference Tuesday, Hoyer had termed chances of the freeze continuing as “pretty good” and said, “I think as a practical matter, I think it’s going to hold for the balance of the [calendar] year.”
The government funding bill passed by the House would replace a temporary measure that expires March 27. An across-the-board federal employee raise of 0.5 percent is set to take effect after that measure expires, but a law enacted in the meantime could prevent that increase.
The House earlier approved a freestanding bill to block the raise. The Senate has not taken up that plan, but action on a broader funding bill is needed to prevent a partial government shutdown that would trigger immediate furloughs of many federal employees, some of whom already are facing potential furloughs starting as soon as about the same time because of sequestration spending cuts.
The measure generally would fund agencies through September at post-sequestration levels while adding money for certain priorities and granting some agencies more freedom to move money among budgetary accounts to soften sequestration’s effect.
The White House said in a statement that it is “deeply concerned about the impact” of the funding levels in the bill but did not specifically mention the pay-rate freeze nor threaten a veto.
Federal salary rates have not increased since the last general raise, which for decades was paid each January, was paid in January 2010. However, individual employees have remained eligible for raises on promotion, for performance, and for successfully completing waiting periods used in some pay systems.
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