Senate measure would keep federal pay rates frozen

Federal employee salary rates would remain frozen through the remainder of 2013, extending that freeze to three full years, under a budget measure introduced in the Senate late Monday.

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The “continuing resolution” is needed to keep the government funded past March 27 when a temporary measure that has been in effect since October is due to expire. Without renewed spending authority, the government would go into a partial shutdown.

Under an executive order, federal employees would receive a raise of 0.5 percent in April after the current measure ends, unless a law enacted before then prevents the raise.

The House already has passed its own version of a new continuing resolution that continues the freeze. Federal employee organizations and some of their allies in Congress had expressed hope the Senate version would attempt to keep the raise in place. However, that bill states that it “repeals the provision that would have permitted a civilian pay adjustment for federal employees, continuing the current pay freeze until December 31, 2013.”

The Senate language likely virtually guarantees that pay will remain frozen for the year. The White House in commenting on the House bill did not challenge continuing the rate freeze.

President Obama has indicated that he will recommend a 1 percent raise for 2014 in his budget proposal, which is not expected for several more weeks.

While for many years federal employees received a raise each January, salary rates were frozen at 2010 rates for 2011 and 2012 by a law enacted late in 2010. The current stopgap measure passed last autumn extended that freeze by another three months.

Although salary rates have been frozen, many individual employees have continued to receive raises for promotion, performance, or for completing waiting periods used for advancement in some federal salary systems.

The measure also extends the freeze on pay for members of Congress through the year, since by law Congress cannot receive a raise when federal employees don’t receive one. Congressional pay hasn’t been increased since 2009.

The Senate measure is sponsored by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and supported by ranking Republican Richard Shelby (Ala.).

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Josh Hicks · March 12, 2013

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