The budget measure that ended the partial government shutdown allows for a 1 percent raise for federal employees in January in addition to providing back pay for those furloughed, according to two Democratic Maryland senators.
“The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in a joint statement with Sen. Ben Cardin.
“I’m proud we were able to fulfill our promise to make them whole again with back pay and finally break through the pay freeze with a modest adjustment for next year,” said Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Federal employee salary rates have not been increased since January 2010. Some employees have had their pay frozen that entire time while some have received raises due to promotion, performance, or on advancing up the steps of their pay grades.
President Obama proposed a 1 percent raise for January 2014 in his budget plan released in the spring. Over the following months, Congress drafted spending bills for fiscal year 2014 that mostly were totally silent regarding a raise or that said that if one is paid, agencies would have to absorb the cost out of other spending. One Senate measure, however, specifically endorsed a 1 percent raise.
In late August, Obama announced his intent to set a 1 percent January raise by default, as is allowed by federal pay law, if no other figure, including zero, were enacted into law by the end of the calendar year.
The budget measure that ended the partial government shutdown and lifted the federal debt ceiling extends agency funding roughly at prior levels through Jan. 15. It “would permit the President to implement his plan for a 1 percent pay raise in January, 2014,” according to the joint statement.
A presidential order would be needed in December to finalize the raise, which would take effect with the first full pay period of January, sometime early in the month depending on agency pay cycles.
An effort could yet be made in Congress to continue the salary rate freeze but the underlying presumption now is that the increase will be paid and supporters would fight strenuously to preserve it, a Capitol Hill official said.
Eric Yoder is a veteran Washington journalist who has written about government, business, law, sports and other topics. He has reported (and researched) for The Washington Post since 2000, concentrating on federal employee issues, the budget and other government policies. He also is the award-winning author of three books of short mysteries for children.