Senate committee endorses 2.9 percent federal pay raise

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a 2.9 percent pay increase for federal civilian employees in fiscal 2010, a bigger raise than that approved by the House spending panel earlier this week.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, advanced the proposal on Wednesday to the full panel as part of the financial services spending package. The House Appropriations Committee approved a 2 percent civilian pay raise for next year, the same figure recommended by President Obama in his fiscal 2010 budget proposal.

Obama has said that he proposed the 2 percent raise for civilians in response to the economic climate and as a way to match federal pay practices with those of the private sector.

The discrepancy between the House and Senate panels on the amount of the pay raise sets the stage for conflict if it's not resolved before each chamber votes on its final version of the financial services spending bill.

There are other federal pay proposals floating around as well, including the House and Senate budget resolutions, both of which call for parity between civilian and military pay raises. And the fiscal 2010 Defense authorization bill includes a 3.4 percent pay raise for service members. Supporters of pay parity have indicated that they would push for appropriators to match that figure for civilians.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, applauded the Senate committee's figure but said NTEU still would seek pay parity.

"NTEU welcomes approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee of a 2.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees in 2010," said Kelley in a statement released on Thursday. "NTEU will work to include at least the 2.9 percent in the final Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for fiscal 2010."

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