Today is the deadline for President Obama to issue an expected order setting a federal pay raise for January by default in the event that Congress does not enact a figure by the end of the year. Congress so far has shown no interest in addressing the White House’s proposed 1.6 percent raise, repeating the pattern of the last three years. In each of those years, Obama issued a late-August order—actually in the form of a letter to Congress—setting his original proposal as the default number and in effect preventing what would be a much larger default raise from taking effect under federal pay law. Obama’s order for a default pay raise would be overridden by any later spending measure specifying a different figure; however, spending bills drafted so far are silent about a raise although they effectively assume that one will be paid by stating that any increase would not apply to political appointees. The order typically isn’t issued until close to the deadline, although it hasn’t happened as late as this since the first year of the Obama administration, 2009.
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