At this point, the most likely outcome is a 1 percent federal employee pay increase for 2021, although a 3 percent "parity" raise remains possible.

A key spending bill has advanced a step in Congress but is still silent on a January 2021 federal employee pay raise, leaving the 1 percent figure that President Trump proposed months ago the most likely outcome at this point.

Consideration of the general government spending bill in the House Appropriations Committee was likely the best—although not the last—opportunity for legislators to back a figure other than 1 percent. A subcommittee earlier had approved the bill with no mention of a raise, effectively endorsing the 1 percent figure that Trump has said he would set as the default raise if Congress does not legislate a number by the end of the year.


A different figure—potentially 3 percent, in the name of “pay parity” with military personnel who are in line for that amount—still could be enacted in a number of ways, including when the full House takes up the bill or when the Senate writes its own version.

However, given the economic downturn since Trump’s original recommendation in early February, there also are concerns among federal employee organizations that there will be a move for a salary rate freeze.

The measure meanwhile would continue several prior policies, including a ban enacted last year on pursuing a merger of OPM and GSA; a long-running ban on conducting Circular A-76 contracting out studies; and language aimed at preventing agencies from imposing policies in areas that previously were negotiated with unions unless there is a new contract agreement or a binding arbitration award—a repeat of language the House passed, but that ultimately was dropped, last year.

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