Fedweek

Federal employee pay would be frozen in 2021 under a newly released bill from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Republican leadership, in contrast to the 1 percent raise the White House has recommended and that the House effectively has supported.

The draft Senate version of the general government appropriations bill was released as Congress faces the December 11 expiration of a temporary funding measure for the fiscal year that started October 1. That is one of a dozen regular funding bills that are far behind schedule, with initial bills such as that one normally being released in the spring.

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The House earlier passed its version of that bill as part of one of two packages pulling together 10 of the regular bills. By remaining silent on a raise, the House effectively accepted President Trump’s recommendation for a 1 percent raise to be paid across the board, with no locality component. That amount will be paid by default if Congress does not take an affirmative position on a raise. The Senate bill would take such a position by providing for no raise.

Given the short working time remaining in the year for Congress, the Senate is not expected to move that bill through the regular committee and floor consideration process but instead go straight to a conference with the House. It’s generally expected that the result will be a catchall bill rather than individually enacted bills—possibly carrying through the remainder of the current fiscal year.

The Senate bill also contains another provision not in the House-passed measure, to effectively bar the TSP from expanding its international stock I fund to include stocks of Chinese companies. It would do so by barring investments in countries that do not meet certain accounting standards, of which China is one.

The plan to expand the I fund to include some two dozen more countries, China among them, was put on indefinite hold in the spring after the White House made nominations to fill three of the five board seats; terms of all have expired and they have been serving on holdover status. Since then, one of the members who would be replaced has left and the nominees have been approved by a committee but not by the full Senate.

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