House budget panel votes for military-civilian pay parity

The House Budget Committee approved an amendment late Wednesday night that would ensure federal military and civilian personnel receive the same average pay increase next year. The committee's action counters a Bush administration plan to give military employees a higher raise than their civilian counterparts, de-linking military and civilian pay for the first time since 1987. Bush has pledged to give members of the armed forces a 4.6 percent raise next year, while the Office of Management and Budget has told civilian agencies to plan for an average 3.6 percent pay hike. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and supported by Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Davis and Hoyer introduced a "Sense of the Congress" resolution earlier this month calling for parity in civilian and military pay. "Each day, our nation's civil servants and uniformed military perform invaluable work for our nation," said Moran. "There is no reason to give one group a smaller raise than the other." Federal unions were quick to applaud the committee's action. "Everyone who has taken a good look at federal personnel issues in coming years has concluded that higher pay for federal workers is key to recruiting and retaining the quality employees the public deserves and expects," said National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley. The Committee approved Moran's pay parity amendment on a voice vote late Wednesday. It now becomes part of the budget resolution that will go before the full House next Tuesday. The budget resolution is not amendable, so the amendment will likely be approved by the House, according to Moran spokesman Paul Reagan. "We're in a lot better position today than we were yesterday," said Reagan. On the Senate side, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., added his voice to the chorus calling for parity in civilian and military pay. "Adequate pay is essential not only for fairness, but also for effective human capital management," the senator said Thursday. Lieberman, ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, also called on the administration to beef up funding for its proposed e-government fund. In his budget blueprint, President Bush pledged to spend $10 million next year to support interagency e-government projects. While the administration plans to earmark $100 million for the fund by 2003, the initial investment of $10 million is too small to support new projects, Lieberman said. "Considering that this money will be spent on several ongoing initiatives like agencies' implementation of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, this will probably leave little if any funds remaining for true innovation," said Lieberman.
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