House panel adds pay parity to budget resolution

The House Budget Committee has included language in the fiscal 2010 budget resolution to establish parity between the pay raises for military service members and civilian employees.

"This budget language makes absolutely clear that this Congress is committed to federal employee pay parity, and that we intend to approve adjustments this year that are equal across all sectors of the government workforce," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who praised Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., for adding the language to the resolution.

The language does not set the actual amount of the 2010 pay raise for military and civilian employees. Those figures will be decided during the appropriations process, as is customary. The Senate Budget Committee is debating its own version of the budget this week.

President Obama initially proposed a 2 percent pay increase for civilian employees and a 2.9 percent raise for service members, prompting protests from Democratic lawmakers and unions.

Connolly, who represents a large number of federal employees in his Northern Virginia district, called for civilians and military personnel to receive the same pay raise. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee, suggested that both military and civilian personnel deserve larger raises in light of their contributions to the country overseas and at home during the financial crisis.

"Just as our military men and women have distinguished themselves throughout history, and particularly during this time of war, our civilian federal employees also perform critically important work on essential government functions and services," Connolly said.

Union leaders praised the addition of pay parity language to the budget resolution.

"Federal employees work diligently to provide public services, especially when our nation is in crisis," said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "As the demand for public services increases, the federal government must have the ability to retain and recruit the highest quality personnel."

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said pay parity has been a key element of federal pay policy for the past 20 years.

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