Workforce

Connolly looks to give feds a pay raise

Gerry Connolly_2015 Eagle 

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) is pushing a bill to raise the pay of federal workers.

For the fourth consecutive year, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced legislation Jan. 31 aimed at increasing the federal workforce's pay.

The 2017 iteration of the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act would increase pay 2 percent across the board and bump locality pay 1.2 percent for in response to lagging pay increases.

Federal pay has lagged since President Barack Obama instituted a three-year pay freeze in 2010. Before leaving office, Obama submitted an alternative payment plan calling for a 2.1 percent pay raise to match Congress's pay increase for defense employees.

The 3.2 percent Connolly's bill seeks constitutes the difference between the 5.3 percent he called for last year and Obama's revised plan.

"For too long Republicans have bullied our federal workforce, falsely painting the civil servant as the scapegoat for all our country's problems," Connolly said in a statement. "They've endured shutdowns and furloughs, attacks on pay and benefits, and an across-the-board hiring freeze.… This is no way to treat a workforce. The FAIR Act is a matter of justice. Federal employees work hard, serve honorably and they deserve fair compensation."

Connolly also cited the recent revival of the obscure Holman Rule, which affords House members the authority to fire or cut the pay of federal employees legislatively, as an example of trying to reduce the deficit at the expense of federal employees.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments, publicly backed Connolly's legislation.

"In recent years, federal employees have been left trailing their private-sector counterparts when it comes to pay," NTEU national president Tony Reardon said. "The FAIR Act recognizes that federal workers are critical to our country and should be paid fairly."

None of Connolly's previous legislative efforts to give feds a pay hike gained much legislative traction, and any bill aimed at increasing pay for federal employees will likely face stiff opposition from Republican leadership.

President Donald Trump, who has pledged to reduce the federal workforce, recently issued a freeze on federal hiring and pay raises, a move Connolly called "a very dangerous management principle."

Moreover, the 2016 platform of the Republican Party called for checks on federal hiring and workforce activities and a series of workforce-related bills that was introduced in the 114th Congress that could be revisited.

Additionally, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has a record of approving legislation that would cut federal employees' pay.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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