The annual White House budget proposal sets the terms of the year’s debate over federal pay raise for the following year. There’s a general expectation that the administration will propose only a minimal raise, if not a pay freeze. There also could be proposals to divert money toward high-performing employees and those in high-demand occupations where the government has trouble attracting and keeping employees; many of those occupations involve security-type functions that are exempt from the hiring freeze. Typically such proposals seek to fund such boosts by denying increases, including regular within-grade raises, to lower-performing employees. Federal employee unions and some Democrats in Congress meanwhile are pushing for a 3.2 percent overall raise, which would be the largest raise since 2009. For most of the time since, Congress has not even actively debated a federal pay raise; after a freeze affecting 2011-2013, legislators annually let raise proposals from President Obama take effect by default. One element of Obama budgets that could be notable by its absence from the Trump budget was a section that each year justified federal salary levels against criticism that the average is well above the private sector average by pointing out that compared to the overall workforce, federal employees on average are more educated, more likely to be in professional occupations, and are older–all factors tied to higher salary levels.