Fedweek

The House plans to vote this week on HR-4502, which ties together seven of the dozen bills to fund federal agencies for the fiscal year that begins October 1, including the general government measure that serves as the vehicle for a federal pay raise in January.

The House vote represents another opportunity for proponents of a 3.2 percent raise in January to try to attach that figure to the bill. The measure currently is silent regarding a raise, effectively endorsing President Biden’s recommendation for 2.7 percent.

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In recent years Congress increasingly has turned to passing appropriations bills in groups rather than individually, but even so it rarely finishes work on any of them before the start of the new fiscal year. That requires enactment of temporary funding extensions to prevent a partial government shutdown, which commonly are approved routinely with the notable exception of the deadlock that caused a month-long partial shutdown over late 2018-early 2019.

An added complication this year is the approaching need to raise the federal debt limit, which some Republicans have threatened to use as leverage to reduce the deficit. The CBO already has warned that the government likely will again have to resort to temporary financial maneuvers that would provide enough operating money until sometime in the fall.

One of those maneuvers involves “disinvesting” the TSP’s government securities G fund, essentially taking that fund—which is a debt the government owes to those investing in it—off the books. While that has no direct impact on investors’ returns or ability to withdraw their funds, many are angered each time it happens, pointing out that TSP investments are their personal money, not a government trust fund.

The House plans to recess after this week through Labor Day, although the Senate schedule is less certain and there is a chance the House will either push back that recess or return sometime in August, at least temporarily, to address matters such as a possible Senate bill on infrastructure spending.

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