Democrats in both chambers of Congress introduced a bill Thursday that would provide federal civilian employees with a 3.6 percent pay increase in 2020, as lawmakers continue to consider whether to provide a raise to federal workers this year.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act (H.R. 1073 and S. 426), which would provide civilian federal workers with a 3.6 percent increase in basic rates of pay next year. The lawmakers have introduced such a bill annually since 2014, although it never received a vote as Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.
In a statement, Connolly and Schatz said it is important to approve a sizeable raise for federal workers for next year, given what 800,000 of them went through during the 35-day partial government shutdown.
“Federal employees are patriots, not pawns,” Connolly said. “Yet for 35 days, the federal workforce was held hostage by the president. We have a responsibility to make sure these public servants know that we respect the dignity of their work. The FAIR Act is a demonstration of our commitment to reversing years of pay freezes, furloughs and Trump shutdowns.”
Schatz added: “For years, federal workers in Hawaii and across the country have watched their earnings get cut as a result of sequestration and a freeze on pay. Then they had to suffer through the longest government shutdown in history. It’s time to do right by federal workers.”
The bill comes at a time when Congress is considering multiple proposals that would override President Trump’s decision last December to freeze federal civilian employee pay in 2019. One plan, which is part of an appropriations package to keep the government open through September, would provide federal workers with a 1.9 percent pay raise, while another bill, also introduced by Connolly, would provide pay parity with military personnel by giving civilians a 2.6 percent pay raise this year. That bill passed the House last week, although its prospects in the Senate are unclear.
Federal employee unions applauded the reintroduction of the FAIR Act on Thursday.
“Federal workers are the backbone of our country, maintaining the programs and services that we rely on each and every day,” said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “[The] purchasing power of federal salaries is about 7 percent less today than it was in 2011. Federal employees have also lost over $200 billion from cuts to their pay and benefits in that period. The legislation introduced by Sen. Schatz and Rep. Connolly would help prevent federal employees from falling further behind and help federal agencies recruit and retain the high-caliber workforce that the public expects and deserves.”
NTEU National President Tony Reardon also praised the bill. “Federal employees are thrilled to hear members of Congress talking about pay raises, especially after the disastrous five-week partial government shutdown,” he said. “It is gratifying to see congressional support for the federal workforce.”