A proposed 3.5 percent pay raise for the military, overhaul of U.S. Postal Service operations and elimination of a key restriction in the Thrift Savings Plan are among the issues that Congress will take up as it returns from the Memorial Day break.

The military raise is part of legislation to authorize $422 billion in defense program spending for 2005. The House has approved its version of the bill, and the Senate is nearing passage of its version.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the proposed 3.5 percent raise for the military next year would cost about $1.9 billion. The Bush administration supports the raise but has recommended that Congress hold the civil service raise to 1.5 percent.

That seems unlikely to happen, given the recent House vote that showed substantial bipartisan support for a "pay parity" raise between the military and the civil service. The size of the civil service raise will be decided later by the appropriations committees.

But the defense bills could get snagged on other issues important to government employees. The House version would delay for two years the Bush administration's plans to close military bases across the country. The measure also includes provisions that would significantly limit the Pentagon's flexibility to contract out federal work.

The proposed delay in base closings and the curb on "competitive sourcing" -- as the administration calls its initiative to put federal jobs that are commercial in nature up for bid -- has drawn veto threats from the president's senior advisers, according to an administration statement.

The administration's policy statement also expressed concern about provisions in the House bill that would expand benefits for military reservists.

For example, the White House questioned whether the Pentagon should be required to make up the difference between the monthly active-duty income of certain reservists and their average monthly private-sector salary, up to a maximum of $3,000 monthly. The White House criticized a provision that would give enlistment and reenlistment bonuses to reservists that have been reserved for active duty personnel.

Such provisions, the administration statement said, "blur the line between active and reserve service members."

A major bill to revamp the U.S. Postal Service and strengthen its financial outlook is scheduled for debate and a possible vote tomorrow by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would revamp how postal rates are set and would free up several billion dollars that had been overpaid into the Civil Service Retirement System for postal pensions.

A House committee approved a similar bill in mid-May.

The Senate committee also plans to take up legislation that would eliminate the TSP's open seasons, the only times that government employees can change the amount they contribute toward retirement. The bill's supporters say the restriction on employees is outdated, in part because the TSP shifted last year to a record-keeping system that permits daily, rather than monthly, transactions.


Janice King Crawford, director, Department of the Navy Central Adjudication Facility, will retire Thursday after more than 36 years of federal service.

Cmdr. Beverly J. Kelsey, who oversaw intelligence and technical collection programs for the Office of Naval Intelligence, retires today after a 21-year Navy career.

Virginia Byers Hickman, a management analyst, retired April 30 after almost 43 years with the Peace Corps.

Harry Redd III, a senior research analyst in the Office of Policy and Evaluation of the Merit Systems Protection Board, will retire Thursday after more than 36 years of federal service. He was the lead author on numerous studies of federal hiring practices.

Mitchell Weisberg, a mathematician at the Dahlgren division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, will retire July 2 after more than 30 years with the Defense Department.

Mary Jane Wood, a paralegal in the Justice Department tax division, will retire Thursday after 35 years of federal service.

Daniel F. Zimmerman, assistant director for the management, information and services division of the Congressional Budget Office, retires today after almost 28 years at CBO.

TSP on Diary Live

Gary A. Amelio, executive director of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, will take questions about the Thrift Savings Plan at noon tomorrow on Federal Diary Live at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline. Please join us.

E-mail: barrs@washpost.com.