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White House confronts silence on fed pay raise

OMB objects to ‘a permanent pay freeze.’

The Obama administration on Thursday threatened to veto the House version of the fiscal 2013 Financial Services appropriations bill, noting among other criticisms the measure does not contain a pay raise for federal workers.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved the bill, which was silent on whether to allocate funds for a federal civilian pay boost. President Obama recommended a 0.5 percent pay boost for federal workers in his fiscal 2013 budget request. The civilian pay raise provision is frequently included in the financial services appropriations bill, which requisitions funds for several federal agencies.

Senate appropriators also omitted the pay raise in their version of the bill, and they included a measure specifically prohibiting political appointees from receiving pay raises in 2013.

The House is likely to take up the $21.2 billion Financial Services appropriations bill, along with other spending bills, after the July 4 recess, according to The Hill.

“A permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Thursday. “The administration encourages the Congress to support the proposed 0.5 percent pay raise for civilian employees, while continuing the pay freeze for senior political officials.”

If there is no specific language affecting federal salaries in final bills, including stand-alone and omnibus legislation, then the president can determine a raise based on the Employment Cost Index. It is unclear whether he would go that route.

Overall, the Financial Services appropriations bill is $376 million below fiscal 2012 spending levels and $2 billion below the Obama administration’s fiscal 2013 request.

The House also passed a military construction and veterans affairs spending bill, which eliminates funds needed to grant some civilians a pay raise, and a homeland security spending bill, which also omitted funding for Obama’s proposed civilian pay raise in fiscal 2013.