Obama ends federal pay freeze; Congress could still block

Friday - 8/30/2013, 8:02pm EDT

President Barack Obama called for a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees in two letters he sent to Congress Friday afternoon.

The letters, which were nearly identical, applied to both members of the uniformed services and civilian federal employees covered by the General Schedule.

"Civilian federal employees have already made significant sacrifices as a result of a three-year pay freeze," Obama wrote. "As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course."

Obama also called for locality pay percentages to remain at their 2013 levels.

Congress, which has yet to pass a fiscal 2014 budget, could still block the pay raises through legislation when members return from recess on Sept. 9.

While the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the pay raises proposed by President Obama wouldn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014.

In a statement, J. David Cox, the national president for the American Federation of Government Employees, called Obama's proposed pay raise "inadequate," though he added it was still good news for federal employees who have had their pay frozen for an extended period of time.

"Although the 1 percent is a pitiful amount that doesn't begin to compensate for the furloughs and three years of frozen pay, it is a welcome development," he said in the statement. "We are working with Congress and the administration to make sure this raise will be extended to federal blue collar workers as well."

Last August, President Obama put forward a 0.5 percent pay increase for federal employees contingent on Congress passing a full-year budget. Instead, Congress passed a long-term continuing resolution that prohibited the pay raise from occurring.

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