The Washington Post

Bill would increase federal pay by 3.3 percent next year


A group of House Democrats plans to introduce a bill on Wednesday that would boost federal-worker pay by 3.3 percent next year.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who crafted the legislation, said the proposal is overdue after a federal-employee salary freeze that lasted more than three years and the sequester-related furloughs that cut into the wages of some agencies’ workers.

Four other House Democrats, Jim Moran (Va.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), John Tierney (Mass.) and Matt Cartwright (Pa.), plan to cosponsor the bill.

In a joint statement on the measure, Connolly said House conservatives have “demonized and demoralized” the federal workforce, adding that his measure would “begin repairing the significant damage that has been wrought on our overworked, underpaid and underappreciated career civil service.”

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.

The bill, which calls for a more generous salary increase than President Obama proposed for federal workers next year, has little chance of garnering widespread Republican support. The White House’s 2015 budget plan requested a lower 1 percent pay raise for federal employees.

Obama froze federal pay rates for two years starting in 2011, and Congress extended the hold through 2013. Federal workers still received performance awards and higher compensation through promotions during that time.

The president in December ordered a 1 percent pay increase that kicked in this year, but inflation rose at a higher rate of 1.5 percent in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer-price index.

Federal-worker unions have praised the Connolly bill. The National Treasury Employees Union and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees said the pay increase would help the government attract and retain the best talent.

NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement that the measure’s backers “understand the vital importance of attracting and retaining a highly qualified and experienced federal workforce that is fairly compensated.”

The labor groups contend that federal workers have contributed heavily toward deficit reduction in recent years, through the three-year pay freeze and a recent increase in the amount of money that future hires of the federal government have to pay toward their retirement plans.

Moran said in the statement that federal workers play a “vital role” in the lives of Americans, adding: “These are the men and women finding lifesaving cures at NIH, catching criminals, supporting our troops and protecting the environment.”

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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