Lawmaker backs pay parity, 3.5 percent raise for 2008

The ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday urged House appropriators to ensure parity in 2008 pay adjustments for civilian federal workers and members of the military.

In a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., argued that the military services and the government's civilian employees work hard to provide protection to Americans, warranting an equal pay increase for the coming year.

The move comes a day after a House Armed Services subcommittee approved a 3.5 percent pay increase for military personnel as part of the fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill. "I believe it is critical civilian personnel receive a similar increase," Davis said.

He noted that the Bush administration's 2008 budget proposal marks the second consecutive year the president has recognized the importance of pay parity between military and civilian employees. In nearly every year over the last two decades, Congress has provided identical pay adjustments to the two groups, he said.

"I firmly believe it is imperative to continue this tradition," Davis said, "not only to ensure pay parity between military and civilian employees, but to address, to the extent we can, the vast gap between public and private sector wages."

He cited Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that private sector employees earn at least 30 percent more than their public sector civilian counterparts and 10 percent more than their counterparts in the military.

Davis noted that ensuring competitive pay for both military and civilian personnel will give the government an edge in recruiting and retaining top talent. "The federal government may never be able to compete with the private sector, dollar for dollar," he said, "but we must ensure that we do not fall further behind in the battle for talent."

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