House Panel Appears to Accept Trump's Proposed 1.9 Percent Civilian Pay Hike

Financial Services appropriations bill does not mention the raise, which would allow the president's plan to advance.

This story has been updated

House Republicans appear willing to go along with President Trump’s proposed 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees in 2018, as a spending bill released Wednesday lacks language countermanding the increase.

Congress has until the end of the year to block the raise, but House members declined to do so in their initial version of the fiscal 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which cleared an appropriations subcommittee Thursday afternoon.

The bill typically serves as the vehicle for federal pay provisions. It funds the Treasury Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a number of other independent agencies.

Trump’s 1.9 percent civilian pay raise was first proposed in April and formalized in his fiscal 2018 budget request.

If Congress does not provide specific language to provide funds or prohibit an across-the-board pay raise in any of its spending bills, then the president has the authority to determine a pay raise based on the Employment Cost Index.

Trump has until Aug. 31 to formally announce his pay raise plan for federal employees. If he does not inform Congress of his plan for workers by that date, then a formula laid out in the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act would determine feds’ compensation increase automatically.

Under FEPCA, civilians’ pay would increase by the equivalent of the change in the Employment Cost Index minus 0.5 percent. The ECI as measured in the first quarter of 2017 was 2.4 percent, so even without presidential action, civilian feds could see their pay increase by 1.9 percent next year.

Democrats in Congress previously floated the idea of advocating that civilian employees receive the same raise as members of the military in 2018. Trump proposed a 2.1 percent raise for service members in his budget, while the House Armed Services Committee’s draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2018 calls for a 2.4 percent raise.