House Dems push for larger pay raise for feds

Wednesday - 3/26/2014, 10:47am EDT

House Democrats are pushing for federal employees to get a pay raise next year that's more than three times larger than President Barack Obama proposed.

The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates or FAIR Compensation Act, introduced Wednesday by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) would provide federal employees with a 3.3 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2015. The increase would apply to employees in both the General Schedule and Wage Grade pay systems.

The White House's proposed budget for next year calls for federal workers to receive a 1 percent pay bump. That's the same amount feds received this year, which was the first automatic increase in federal pay since 2010.

"By investing in the federal government's most valuable resource, its talented workforce, the FAIR Act would begin repairing the significant damage that has been wrought on our overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated career civil service, while helping to ensure we can attract the best and the brightest to build the federal workforce of the future," Connolly said in a statement.

In a statement, Moran said federal workers — 85 percent of whom live outside Washington D.C. — have "earned this modest, decent raise."

Unions applaud pay-raise bill

Federal-employee unions have criticized the President' proposed 1 percent pay raise for next year.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal-employee union, called it "pitiful."

Unions are greeting the Connolly-Moran bill with more enthusiasm.

The National Treasury Employees Union, another major federal-employee union, has already championed the idea of a 3.3 percent raise earlier this year.

The union said that amount would track the rise of inflation as measured by the Employment Cost Index, the formula mandated by a 1990 law on federal pay adjustments. That would also include a 2 percent increase to locality pay, which boosts pay for employees in more expensive metropolitan areas, such as Washington and New York. Federal workers haven't received any locality pay adjustments since 2010.

NTEU President Colleen Kelley, in a statement, called the new legislative proposal a "welcome and needed step toward getting federal pay back on track."

AFGE also applauded the Connolly-Moran bill, saying the larger pay bump would be the first "fair and meaningful raise" for federal employees in years.

"Federal employees have seen their standard of living deteriorate in recent years due to a three-year pay freeze, unpaid furloughs, and higher retirement contributions for newer workers," AFGE President J. David Cox said in a statement. "A 3.3 percent pay raise would help federal employees recoup some of that lost income and ensure the government is able to recruit and retain the high caliber workers that taxpayers expect."

The Federal Salary Council reported last year that the average federal employee earned 35 percent less than their private-sector counterparts, although that figure is disputed.

So far, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), John Tierney (D-Mass.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) have signed on as co-sponsors of the new pay bill.

However, in recent years, Congress has been more likely to block even the modest pay increases proposed by the President. The larger pay increase supported by Democrats faces an even more uncertain future on Capitol Hill.

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