Bush again challenges 4.6 percent civilian pay raise

The Bush administration on Tuesday urged lawmakers to kill a measure giving federal workers a 4.6 percent average pay raise next year. In a statement on the House version of the 2002 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill (H.R. 2590), administration officials said a 3.6 percent average pay raise is sufficient. President Bush proposed a 3.6 percent raise in his 2002 budget plan. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Treasury-Postal bill-traditionally the vehicle for federal pay-related measures-that would force President Bush to give employees a 4.6 percent raise. "The administration continues to believe the proposal included in the President's budget is both reasonable and responsible. We urge the Congress to support the President's budget policy," the statement said. The Bush administration estimates that the 1 percent increase in civilian raises above the figure already proposed would cost $900 million in 2002. "The additional cost of this policy would divert critical resources from programs across the government," Bush officials said. If passed by the full House and Senate and signed in to law, the amendment providing for the 4.6 percent raise would make civilian raises more comparable with the Bush administration's proposed military raises. Bush proposed an across-the-board 4.6 percent military raise along with additional targeted raises that would boost increases to between 5 percent and 10 percent for service members, depending on their rank. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., proposed the amendment that would grant a 4.6 percent average raise to civilian employees. Military and civilian raises have been equal in 17 of the last 20 years. "The principle of pay parity is vitally important to showing federal employees that we acknowledge and appreciate their work," Hoyer said last week. Some of the 13 appropriations bills for next year, including the House versions of the Agriculture and Transportation bills, assume that employees will get a 4.6 percent average raise next year. Agencies covered by other bills would have to come up with the money for the higher raise from elsewhere in their budgets.
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