It's showtime for the 2005 federal pay raise.
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled today to take up a spending bill for the Transportation and Treasury departments -- the bill that traditionally sets the annual civil service raise.
Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) plan to propose an amendment that would provide white-collar and blue-collar federal employees with a 3.5 percent raise in January.
The pay amendment, a Hoyer aide said, reflects the view of the House, which voted 299 to 126 in March to give civil service employees the same pay raise as military personnel.
Congress is on track to provide a 3.5 percent raise next year to the military, and Congress has backed a "pay parity" policy in 19 of the past 21 years, advocates of that approach point out.
The Hoyer-Wolf-Moran amendment is similar to last year's provision, which provided a 2004 average pay increase of 4.1 percent, the aide said. In addition to giving equal pay raises for military and non-military employees, the amendment would ensure that the government's blue-collar workers keep pace with white-collar employees when locality adjustments are made.
The amendment would leave it to the Bush administration to determine how much of the pay raise should be allocated to across-the-board increases and how much to locality adjustments, the aide said.
Hoyer, Wolf and Moran hope to win the support of Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) for the higher raise. Young has supported the parity approach in past years.
Last week, eight Washington area House members, including Reps. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) and Jo Ann S. Davis (R-Va.), who oversee federal workforce issues, wrote Young to urge his support for the higher civil service raise.
The pay amendment may prompt some debate in the committee. The Bush administration recommended a 1.5 percent raise as part of the president's fiscal 2005 budget, an increase that Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.) has called "more than fair." Increasing the raise by 2 percentage points will cost agencies $2.2 billion, according to Istook.
Supporters of parity raises counter that federal policy calls for providing raises comparable to those in the private sector, as measured by a Labor Department index of wages and salaries.
Hoyer also will propose that the Appropriations Committee go on record to reaffirm support for the hiring of disabled people at federal agencies, the aide said.
A recent report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that from fiscal 1993 to fiscal 2002, the percentage of people with disabilities decreased in the federal workforce at a much faster rate than in the general workforce.
Hoyer's proposal would direct the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management "to assess the causes of the negative findings discovered by the EEOC report, and within 90 days develop and report to Congress a plan of action to reverse these troubling trends."
This week, Hoyer wrote White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. to "express my great concern" about the EEOC data, which showed the proportion of disabled workers in the government had dropped by 12.49 percent. Hoyer, who was the chief House sponsor of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, urged Card to direct agencies to find out why the hiring of the disabled has declined.
In Other Legislation . . .
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday approved, by voice vote, a bill that would set up a program to provide supplemental dental and vision benefits to federal employees and retirees at group rates. Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the bill's chief sponsor.
The committee also approved a bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Collins, that would strengthen protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse. The bill would clarify definitions and standards used in court proceedings.
In the House, the Government Reform Committee approved, by voice vote, a bill that would eliminate "open seasons" in the Thrift Savings Plan. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Tom Davis and Jo Ann Davis. Last week, the Senate approved its version of the legislation.