2020 already? Lawmakers propose 3.6 percent federal pay raise

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) have reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act, which give federal employees a...

While some federal employees are still waiting for back pay after the partial government shutdown or word on whether they will, in fact, get a pay raise later this year, at least two members of Congress are already thinking about 2020.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) have reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act this year. This time, they’re calling for a 3.6 percent federal pay raise in 2020.

The legislation doesn’t explicitly mention potential locality pay adjustments.

“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,” Schatz said in a statement. “Then they had to suffer through the longest government shutdown in history. It’s time to do right by federal workers. Our bill would help give these public servants the raise they deserve.”

This is the fifth year now that Connolly has introduced the FAIR Act in the House. Previous versions of this legislation called for a 3 percent federal pay raise in 2019, a 3.2 percent boost in 2018 and 5.3 percent increase in 2017.

Federal employee unions praised the introduction of the 2020 pay raise legislation.

“Federal employees are thrilled to hear members of Congress talking about pay raises, especially after the disastrous five-week partial government shutdown,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Thursday in a statement. “It is gratifying to see congressional support for the federal workforce.”

The American Federation of Government Employees and National Federation of Federal Employees also endorsed the 2020 federal pay raise bill.

Congress, however, has never passed any version of the FAIR Act, and actual federal pay raises have fallen short of the legislation’s expectations every year.

This year, of course, is the latest example of this discrepancy.

President Donald Trump in late December finalized a pay freeze for civilian employees this year.

But lawmakers are trying to reverse course. The House last week passed legislation that would give civilian employees a 2.6 percent raise for the rest of 2019. The raise would apply as of Jan. 1, 2019, meaning federal employees would receive a retroactive pay boost if the bill clears Congress and the President.

The Senate, however, has yet to take up the legislation.

The Federal-Postal Coalition, a group of nearly 30 organizations representing the active and retired federal workforce, has called on the Senate to pass the 2019 federal pay raise legislation.

“Following the recent 35-day government shutdown, no other group in the country has been more demoralized and asked to sacrifice more than our federal workforce,” the coalition wrote Wednesday in a letter to senators. “This left many of them empty-handed and in extreme distress over how to pay their bills and feed their families. Despite the uncertainty and hardship that federal workers endured throughout the shutdown, they showed an unparalleled commitment to exemplary public service.”

The Federal-Postal Coalition, includes AFGE, NTEU and NFFE, along with the Senior Executives Association and National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE).

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