Obama orders end to pay freeze in spring

Charles Dharapak/AP

As Congress and the White House remain entangled in last-minute fiscal cliff negotiations, President Obama has made one thing clear: he wants an end to the two-year pay civilian federal employee pay freeze next spring.

On Thursday, Obama issued an executive order that would lift the freeze and implement a 0.5 percent across-the-board increase starting the first pay period after March 27, 2013. 

The White House issued an order last week officially extending the current pay freeze until March 27.

President Obama and Congress agreed in the fall to mainain the freeze that began in January 2011 through the end of the current continuing resolution. Obama recommended a 0.5 percent pay increase next year for feds when Congress passes a budget. It remains unclear when or if that will happen.

Lawmakers passed the $1.047 trillion continuing resolution in September. It funds the government through March 27. The stopgap spending measure ensured feds would not see a salary bump until April at the earliest.

Last week, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry issued a memorandum providing guidance on Obama's order formally delaying an increase in 2013 until after March 27. In that memo, he wrote, "Absent any intervening change in law, after the expiration of the [continuing] resolution, agencies may grant increases in pay schedules and general increases in covered employees’ rates of pay in accordance with their administrative discretion."

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