House and Senate Fail to Appropriate Federal Pay Adjustment; Obama Calls for End to Freeze


Last Thursday, President Barack Obama made a threat to veto the House version of the fiscal 2013 Financial Services appropriations bill in an effort to confront the ongoing silence in the House and Senate on the federal pay raise.

“[A] permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable,” read a White House Statement of Administration Policy. “The Administration encourages the Congress to support the proposed 0.5 percent pay raise.”

Despite White House pressure to end the freeze, House and Senate lawmakers have each passed appropriations bills devoid of any increase in federal pay. Whereas a federal pay adjustment is typically included in the Financial Services appropriations bill each year, no such thing was included in the FY 2013 versions. In fact, the only provision addressing federal pay levels was an extension of the pay freeze on political appointees’ salaries.

What does this mean for federal workers? For the time being, it seems that the House and the Senate have chosen to stay silent, and look the other way. Though a pay increase may be added during the obligatory conference meetings where the two bills are merged, or be appropriated elsewhere, the signal sent by this exclusion is a bad sign for federal employees.

“It is unacceptable to freeze federal pay for a third consecutive year, and the President understands that,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “Now it’s time for Congress to follow suit, and do the right thing for all the federal employees across the country – like VA nurses and wild land firefighters – that are struggling to make ends meet under this freeze.”