The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a general government appropriations bill that neither sets nor prevents a federal employee raise in January. That matches the action of the similar House panel, which earlier approved its own bill (HR-5485), which could get to a full House vote this week. That means Congress is continuing to follow the strategy of recent years of allowing a raise to be paid by default in the absence of a specific provision being enacted. The default amount almost certainly would be the 1.6 percent that President Obama recommended earlier this year; he would most likely formalize that number with a letter to Congress in late August. For each of the last three budget cycles that letter has backed his original proposal, although in theory at least he would be free to name some other number. Any higher figure—much less the 5.3 percent federal unions want—could cause a backlash on Capitol Hill, however.
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