(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Spending bills advancing in the House leave open the door for across-the-board pay raises for federal employees in January 2014.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved separate bills for Veterans Affairs and the Homeland Security that do not endorse a pay raise, but don’t take a stance against one, either.

President Obama has recommended a 1 percent raise for all federal employees, effective January 2014; the last such raise was in January 2010. Since then, pay rates of some employees have not changed while other workers have received raises for promotion, performance, or on successfully completing waiting periods to advance up the steps of a pay grade.

“The Committee does not include requested funding for a civilian pay increase. Should the President provide a civilian pay raise for fiscal year 2014, it is assumed that the cost of such a pay raise will be absorbed within existing appropriations for fiscal year 2014,” the appropriations panel said in identical language in reports on its VA and DHS spending bills.

Those are the first two of a dozen spending bills to fund the government in the fiscal year that starts in October.

A House-passed budget outline for fiscal 2014 similarly is silent on the issue of a January raise, in contrast to prior House budget plans that recommended continuing the salary rate freeze into the future. After Congress and the White House in late 2010 agreed to no raises in January 2011 or 2012, it was the House that took the lead in extending the rate freeze through 2013 as well.

Separately, a House Armed Services subcommittee last week endorsed a 1.8 percent raise for military personnel, the amount indicated by an employment cost index measure sometimes used in government pay-setting.

In many years, federal employee pay raises were boosted to the amount set for military personnel in the name of “pay parity.” That linkage has not been followed recently, however, as uniformed personnel have continued receiving annual raises while federal pay rates have been frozen.

In some years when federal raises were brought up to the level of the military increase, agencies have been required to absorb the cost from their general overhead accounts. Finding the savings needed to fund a raise in 2014 could be a difficult task for agencies, however, since those accounts already could be stretched due to sequestration.