Fedweek

The pay period that began Sunday (January 6) would have been the start of a 2019 raise had one been enacted, although the passage of that date has no substantial impact on the prospects for a raise yet being paid.

It had been clear for a week or more that if a raise is to be paid it would have to be made retroactive.

Raises have been made retroactive in the past, including twice during the George W. Bush administration, although in both cases the amounts were increases over smaller raises that had been paid by default when budget negotiations had similarly hit gridlock. In this case, President Trump set the default raise at zero and those gaining his signature on a measure containing a raise is a matter of having him agree to a raise at all, rather than a raise larger than one already being paid.

Although the White House has advocated for a freeze many times since its initial budget proposal last February—including in an executive order imposing one, subject to being overridden by a later law—it has not threatened to veto a raise if one is included in a spending bill.

The House last week passed a bill authorizing a 1.9 percent average raise as part of a wide-ranging spending bill that has now stalled; it is set to repeat that stance this week by voting separately on the general government appropriations bill. The Senate backed that raise last year but has not addressed the issue in the present Congress.

The language in the House bills mirrors the Senate’s language from last year requiring that agencies absorb the cost out of their general operating budgets. That approach was designed to make a raise more palatable to the White House by not requiring additional funding directly related to the raise.