Some House Republicans have joined the call for payment of a federal employee raise in January, potentially improving chances that House-Senate negotiators on the general government spending bill will agree to one.

While the White House and Congress have until year’s end to make that decision, it could come sooner, potentially before the end of this month.

The views of even a minority of House Republicans could be a key consideration as political leaders decide on what is shaping up as a choice between a freeze and a 1.9 percent average raise. The House earlier effectively endorsed President Trump’s call for a freeze by remaining silent on the raise in that bill, which it passed on largely a party-line vote.

In contrast, the Senate version—passed on a bipartisan 92-6 vote—contains a raise, which it would split as 1.4 percent across the board and 0.5 percentage points to be divided as locality pay. The Senate structured its language to not result in an increase in spending; it requires agencies to absorb the additional cost out of existing funding in accounts that fund salaries as well as expenses such as training and travel.

A House-Senate conference on that bill has not yet started, but Trump’s recent repeat of his call for a freeze – setting it by default should no figure be enacted into law by year’s end —spurred opposition from some House Republicans in districts with large populations of federal employees. Trump himself soon afterward signaled that he was open to reconsidering the issue, although the White House has said nothing more since.

In the latest development 16 House Republicans joined seven Democrats in a letter to Trump urging him to accept a raise if one is included in a spending bill presented to him. Several Republicans running for empty or Democratic seats in Congress also have backed a raise.

In two other letters, nearly all House Democrats urged appropriators to “stand with our federal workers by supporting the modest 1.9 percent pay raise passed in bipartisan fashion by the Senate.”

See also, Pay Raise Still Possible in 2019 Despite Call for Freeze