Fedweek

The general government spending bill for fiscal 2022 is now ready for a House vote, with proponents of a 3.2 percent federal raise in January continuing their efforts to increase the raise to that amount from the 2.7 percent that the bill effectively endorses.

The bill as approved last week by the full House Appropriations Committee contains no language regarding a raise, which amounts to accepting the 2.7 percent increase that President Biden proposed. If no specific figure is set by year’s end, that becomes the raise by default.

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During committee consideration of the bill as written by a subcommittee, no amendment was offered regarding a raise even though nearly two dozen House Democrats, including leaders on civil service issues, days before had asked the committee to specify 3.2 percent. They argued that “in nine of the last ten years, federal employee pay increases have not kept pace with the statutory formula for determining annual salary adjustments.”

However, the only significant amendment regarding federal employee matters—which was defeated—sought to reinstate a general ban on abortion coverage in the FEHB program. That ban has been in annual versions of the bill for decades but would be dropped in the 2022 version.

An effort to set a 3.2 percent increase could be made during voting in the full House, although a significant barrier is that under Biden’s budget proposal, military personnel also would receive a 2.7 percent raise. When federal raises have been set in the name of “pay parity” with military personnel, it always has been to bring those raises up to the level of the raise for them.

A raise of either amount likely would be split so that there would be some variation by locality above and below the enacted figure.

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