By arda savasciogullari /

Senate Republicans Propose 2021 Pay Freeze for Feds One Month Before Deadline to Avoid Shutdown

President Trump has proposed a 1% across-the-board raise for federal employees.

Republican appropriators in the Senate have proposed a pay freeze for federal civilian employees in 2021 just one month before Congress hits the deadline to avert a government shutdown.

The proposal to keep federal workers’ pay at 2020 levels is less generous than the plan of President Trump, who proposed a 1% across-the-board increase to basic pay for civilian feds for next year, as well as the House, which passed appropriations bills over the summer that deferred to Trump’s pay plan. It also comes at the start of a Federal Employees Health Benefits Program open season where employees will see an average 4.9% premium increase.

Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled their spending proposal Tuesday after delaying consideration of fiscal 2021 funding bills over the summer because Democrats proposed amendments to fund the response to the coronavirus pandemic and police reform. Ultimately, lawmakers agreed to pass a stopgap continuing resolution to keep the government running until Dec. 11.

In a statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who serves as ranking member on the committee, said he was “disappointed” that Republicans decided to skip the committee mark-up and Senate floor amendment process.

“Our goal is to work with the House to conference all 12 appropriations bills and avert a government shutdown,” Leahy said. “We only have four weeks to do it. In order to accomplish our work, we need Senate bills to work from. The 12 bills being released by the chairman on Tuesday will help us move forward in this process.”

The apparent retrenchment on civilian compensation from Republicans will concern federal workers, employee groups and Democrats in the House and Senate. Despite the House’s initial inaction to propose a more generous pay adjustment for next year, advocates have continued to push for Congress to provide an average 3% raise in 2021, which would match the pay increase proposed for military service members next year.

Elsewhere in the Senate spending plan, Republicans called for the Office of Personnel Management to receive $325 million, an increase of $25 million over its fiscal 2020 funding. That increase would go toward “cybersecurity and staffing initiatives,” according to a summary of the appropriations package.

Another provision would block the Thrift Savings Plan from “making investments in countries that deny U.S. accounting regulators full access,” an apparent reference to the TSP’s aborted plan to switch the index upon which international (I) fund investments are made to one that includes Chinese corporations.