UPDATED: A House committee has effectively endorsed President Biden’s recommendation for a January 2023 federal raise of 4.6 percent, while a Senate committee has endorsed that raise in a separate bill.
In approving the annual general government spending bill, one of the dozen regular spending bills for the fiscal year that starts October 1, the House Appropriations Committee took no position on a raise. That has been a common practice in recent years as a signal of consent to the White House’s recommended figure. Under federal pay law, if Congress remains silent on the raise through the year, the President sets a raise by default. In almost all cases—there have been exceptions—the President imposes the raise that the early-year budget proposal from the White House recommended.
The committee’s vote moves the bill on for consideration by the full House. The Senate’s counterpart committee has not started drafting its own version of the budget measure but its Armed Services Committee in passing its version of the defense authorization bill included an assumption that civilian employees of DoD would receive the same 4.6 percent increase that the bill would provide to uniformed personnel. While that language would apply only to the department’s own employees, in practice there is no distinction in raises between one agency and another.
The House Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill also assumes a 4.6 percent raise for military personnel but is silent regarding a civilian employee raise; that committee is set to vote on its bill this week, as well.
A raise of 4.6 percent presumably would be split into an across the board component and a locality component that would vary by area; that typically is not specified until an annual late-August letter to Congress from the White House stating its intent regarding the raise if no specific figure is enacted into law.
Many steps lie ahead that could result in a different outcome. It’s generally expected that a final resolution will not occur until late in the calendar year after one or more stopgap measures carry funding authority beyond that date.
That bill meanwhile would continue several longstanding provisions including reporting requirements on agency conferences; a ban on training not directly related to job duties; and a ban on starting new “Circular A-76” comparisons of in-house costs to contractor bids that could lead to contracting out of federal jobs.
However, it would drop another provision that has been in similar bills except for a few years for several decades that generally bars FEHB plans from covering abortions. The House had sought to drop that ban last year but the final version as ultimately enacted kept it.