Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., is optimistic about a bill providing a 5.3 percent pay raise next year.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., is optimistic about a bill providing a 5.3 percent pay raise next year. Steven Senne/AP file photo

Lawmaker Sees Bipartisan Future for Pro-Fed Legislation, Including Big Pay Raise

Opponents "denigrating federal service" are "damaging the American dream," he says.

A Democratic lawmaker with a fed-friendly history expressed optimism at an event Tuesday there could be bipartisan agreement to pass legislation benefiting federal employees this year, including a significant pay raise.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., told attendees of the Federal Managers Association’s national convention that those who disparage federal workers are harming the American dream, but said feds had a significant number of advocates on both sides of the aisle. To convince the others of the value of federal employees, Lynch told the federal managers to tell their stories.

“Try to tell the story of the federal employee to remind people of the sacrifice that is being made every day by those federal employees and their families, and how we should honor that service,” Lynch said. “If you are denigrating federal service, then you are harming America and the ideals we all stand for. You’re damaging the American dream.” 

Lynch went on to recite a wish list of reforms often put forward by federal workforce advocates, such as paid parental leave, lifetime protection for victims of the theft of personnel files maintained by the Office of Personnel Management and generally boosting funding for agencies. The lawmaker also cited his support for the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, which would provide federal employees with a 5.3 percent pay raise in 2017. In his budget, President Obama supported a 1.6 percent increase.

The FAIR Act has 40 cosponsors in the House, Lynch noted. While all of those are Democrats, he said upwards of half a dozen Republicans would be on board if not for being discouraged by their leadership. Lynch and his colleagues are working on those members to “hold hands” and add their names to the bill, he said. 

“There’s more bipartisanship on some of the federal workforce issues than there is generally,” Lynch said. “There are plenty of things that we can be doing that are non-controversial, that have bipartisan support, that we can be working on.”

Lynch thanked FMA for its support in crafting legislation, such as the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act, which he authored and Obama signed into law last year. The measure provides up front sick leave to disabled veterans joining the civil service. Lynch said he is working on follow up legislation to bring that benefit to the remaining 15 percent of federal employees not covered by that law.

He also commended FMA for its “critical role in opposing misguided legislation,” adding, “We’ve kept you busy on that score.” 

Still, he noted some recent progress for the federal workforce, pointing to the extension of protections for OPM hack victims from three years to 10 and permanent parity in benefits for employees using public transportation with those who drive. More such victories will continue to crop up as federal employees follow his advice and tell their stories, he said.

“We’re doing the right thing,” he said. “We just gotta let people know about it.”