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1 Percent Pay Raise On Horizon for Feds Next Year

Legislation currently circulating in both chambers of Congress doesn’t prohibit the president’s recommended 2015 pay bump.

It’s looking increasingly likely that federal employees will receive a 1 percent across-the-board pay bump in 2015.

The current House version of the fiscal 2015 Financial Services and General Government spending bill, which the full Appropriations Committee will consider on Wednesday, is silent on a pay raise for feds next year. It doesn’t include money for one, but it also does not prohibit one. It does expressly prohibit pay raises for senior political appointees next year. The financial services bill, as lawmakers refer to it, typically is the vehicle for such federal pay provisions.

If there is no specific legislative language that provides funds or prohibits an across-the-board raise in any bills -- either stand-alone or omnibus legislation -- then the president has the authority to determine a pay raise based on the Employment Cost Index. President Obama in his fiscal 2015 budget recommended a 1 percent pay boost for federal workers.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government reported out its version of the financial services spending bill. The committee released a summary of the legislative provisions briefly mentioning the federal employee cost-of-living adjustment. “The bill does not contradict the president’s proposal for a 1 percent pay increase to take effect Jan. 1, 2015,” stated the summary. The text of the actual bill will not be available until the full committee marks it up.

The House so far has passed five of the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal 2015. None of them contains language pertaining to a pay raise for federal civilian employees. The Senate has not passed any fiscal 2015 spending bills yet.

The fiscal 2015 spending bill funding the legislative branch includes a provision to freeze congressional salaries at current levels. This would be the sixth consecutive year that members of Congress have frozen their own pay.

Last week, the House approved a 1.8 percent pay increase for military service members next year.  It is more than Obama’s proposed 1 percent pay raise for military personnel in 2015, and exceeds the 1 percent boost currently in the Senate Defense authorization legislation.

The formula for determining service members’ annual pay increase is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index and the growth in private-sector wages. But under the law (Title 37, Chapter 19, Section 1009) the president has the authority to set an alternate pay raise for military personnel, citing a national emergency or fiscal concerns, if Congress doesn’t pass legislation adjusting the amount or canceling it. The 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act allows the president through executive order to set a pay raise for federal civilian employees under the same circumstances.

(Image via Steven T Howes/