Fedweek

House passage last week of a wide-scale appropriations bill (HR-4502) may have all but finalized a January 2022 federal pay raise of 2.7 percent.

By remaining silent, the measure effectively backs the 2.7 percent recommendation of President Biden, which will take effect by default unless another number is enacted into law by the end of the year. No amendment was offered to set a raise during House floor voting on the bill, which includes the annual general government appropriations measure along with six others to fund various agencies in the fiscal year starting October 1.

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Federal employee unions and some congressional Democrats have been pushing for 3.2 percent. However, that always has been an uphill struggle, especially after Biden recommended 2.7 percent for both federal employees and uniformed military personnel. That effectively prevented what has sometimes been a successful bid to boost the federal pay raise in the name of parity with military personnel in years when that group was initially in line for a larger increase.

There appears to be little prospect of boosting the military raise above the 2.7 percent. Both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have endorsed that number. Most recently, a subcommittee of the House armed services panel also backed 2.7 percent.

The House general government appropriations bill mainly continues long-standing federal personnel policies with the notable exception that it would end a general restriction that has been in effect for many years against coverage of abortions in the FEHB. The Senate has not yet drafted a counterpart to that bill and in practice in many recent years that chamber has not brought many of its spending bills to a floor vote but instead has gone directly to a conference with the House on its committee-passed bills.

In addition to the package, the House passed several appropriations bills individually, leaving only those covering DoD and DHS on its plate.

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