Federal pay parity for civilian employees should continue in 2021, House members say

Days after House appropriators essentially endorsed the president’s planned 1% federal pay raise for civilian employees next year, a bipartisan group of House members are pushing for a bigger boost.

Ten House lawmakers say civilian federal employees should earn pay parity with the military next year. Military members are on track to receive a 3% raise in 2021.

“As in previous years, we support the biggest pay increase possible for our military members,” House members wrote Friday in a letter to appropriations leadership. “We also want to note that with very few exceptions Congress has maintained pay parity with respect to pay raises for military and civilian federal employees. We write to ask that this pay parity continue — particularly in light of the continued work of our federal employees throughout a global pandemic.”

The letter has 10 signatures, including House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Reps. Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, John Sarbanes and David Trone (D-Md.), as well as District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.).

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Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a former FBI agent, also signed on to the letter.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government introduced its version of a 2021 spending bill earlier this week.

It made no mention of federal pay, meaning House appropriators had essentially deferred to the 1% across-the-board raise President Donald Trump had proposed earlier this year. Trump’s recommendation made no locality pay adjustments.

The 2021 bill easily passed out of the financial services and general government subcommittee earlier this week. The full House appropriations committee is expected to mark up the bill next week.

Members are exploring the possibility of introducing an amendment that would provide pay parity for civilian federal employees, a congressional aide told Federal News Network.

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“We feel strongly that federal employees have demonstrated they are invaluable to this nation and that they deserve parity with respect to pay increases provided by the federal government. The pay increase equates to less than one-tenth of one percent of the federal discretionary budget — spread across 12 appropriations bills,” House members wrote. “And Congress has historically maintained this pay parity. This year, in particular, our federal civilian workforce has served this nation at the time when services were most needed. Congress must step up and ensure that the federal workforce is treated with the respect it deserves.”

Congress has stepped in twice in the last two years to override the president’s federal pay recommendations, with lawmakers securing a 3.1% boost for civilian employees for 2020 and a 1.9% bump in 2019 after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

The 3.1% raise for 2020 was the largest pay increase for civilian employees in more than a decade.

Under a formula written into statute, federal employees are supposed to receive a 2.5% raise — before locality pay adjustments — in 2021.