Democratic lawmakers propose 5.1% average pay raise for federal employees

Continuing with an annual tradition, lawmakers have once again introduced a bill that would give federal employees a pay raise in 2023.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act on Thursday.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), meanwhile, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, and said the legislation would give the federal workforce a “much-deserved raise.”

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Continuing with an annual tradition, lawmakers have once again introduced a bill that would give federal employees a pay raise in 2023.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act on Thursday.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), meanwhile, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate, and said the legislation would give the federal workforce a “much-deserved raise.”

The FAIR Act would grant the federal workforce, on average, a 5.1% pay raise in 2023. The bill, more specifically, would grant a 4.1% across-the-board pay raise, plus a 1% increase in locality pay.

This marks the eighth year in a row Connolly has introduced the FAIR Act in the House. This year’s proposed pay raise, however, is the highest of its kind since 2017, when the bill outlined a 5.3% increase for the federal workforce.

Previous versions of this legislation called for a 3.5% federal pay raise in 2021, a 3.6% pay raise in 2020, a 3% raise in 2019 and a 3.2% raise in 2018.

Congress has yet to pass any version of the FAIR Act, and the pay raises federal employees actually receive have fallen short of what the bill has proposed most years.

Congress, however, has intervened and passed legislation in recent years that set pay raises for civilian federal employees—once in 2020, when lawmakers approved a 3.1% increase, and in 2019 after the longest U.S. government shutdown.

“Federal employees are our government’s single greatest asset, and they deserve better. The FAIR Act is a critical step toward recognizing their contributions and providing fair and just compensation,” Connolly said.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order in December authorizing a 2.7% average pay increase for federal workers that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The FAIR Act once again has support from the American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union and National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association, as well as other organizations.

“Passing this legislation will show federal workers how much they are valued and respected for the work they do, the hardships they have endured, and their steadfast commitment to the American people,” AFGE President Everett Kelley said.

National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said the proposed pay raise is essential for agencies to recruit and retain in-demand federal employees.

“The pandemic has caused an upheaval in the labor market and rising costs continue to chip away at federal employee paychecks. Our nation’s public servants deserve a pay increase that brings their salaries closer to their counterparts in the private sector,” Reardon said.

NARFE President Ken Thomas said the proposed pay increase, if approved, would represent the biggest pay raise in nearly two decades. Federal employees in 2004 received a 4.1% pay increase under former President George W. Bush.

“NARFE urges President Biden to include a pay increase in his budget submission commensurate
with the FAIR Act, and encourages House members and senators who value the federal workforce to
support the pay plan,” Thomas said.

The FAIR Act is co-sponsored by Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), David Trone (D-Md) and Anthony Brown (D-Md).

The bill is also co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

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