Fedweek

Updated: A decision on a pay raise will have to wait until after the midterm elections as Congress has gone into recess without having resolved the matter. The measure that is the vehicle for a raise decision, the general government appropriations bill, is one of several that have been tied into a package for a House-Senate conference to finalize.

On Thursday, a key House negotiator on the general government bill – Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., head of the appropriations subcommittee controlling that bill – said that House Republicans have agreed to include a raise. However, Democrats have voiced opposition to a related proposal to lift the salary caps that have been in place for political appointees since 2011. In any event, no final action can be taken until the post-election session of Congress.

Talks on the bill last week broke off when the House cut short its working schedule after Congress passed – and President Trump signed – a separate package containing funding for several agencies through the entire fiscal year. That followed enactment into law of a previous package containing full-year funding for several other agencies; between them, those two measures cover the large majority of agency spending.

The second package avoided a partial government shutdown by extending through December 7 spending authority, generally at fiscal 2018 levels, for agencies not in one of those two packages.

Those include agencies funded by the general government spending measure—including the IRS, financial regulatory agencies and central management agencies such as OPM—as well as DHS, Commerce, Justice, State, science agencies, and related agencies.

The choice for Congress has boiled down to either allowing a freeze to take effect by default by having no language regarding a raise in the final bill, or specifying a 1.9 percent increase, with variations by locality, as advocated by the Senate.

The administration has repeatedly advocated a freeze but has not threatened to veto a bill containing a raise, which remains on a possibility.