House votes for 2.6 percent federal pay raise

In the first week back from the longest shutdown in American history, Congress is moving to challenge the administration's civilian pay freeze.

government money (Florence-Joseph McGinn/Shutterstock.com)

In the first week back from the longest shutdown in American history, the House voted to give feds a pay raise.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), passed the House by a 259 to 161 vote, with 230 Democrats and 29 Republicans voting in favor. The legislation gives a 2.6 pay increase to federal civilian employees in fiscal year 2019, equal to the raise for military personnel that passed in the Defense budget bill last year. During the shutdown, the White House finalized plans to freeze civilian pay.

"On the heels of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, I believe it is appropriate for the House of Representatives to take up legislation to show federal employees that we in Congress appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifices they make," Connolly said. "This bill is a down payment on treating our federal workforce with the respect it deserves."

Federal unions hailed the passage of the bill.

"The shutdown underscored the need for keeping federal pay fair and competitive," said National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon. "The reputation of the federal government as a good employer took a big hit during the shutdown. Fair pay is one way to make the government an attractive option for talented employees. Another, of course, is to never shut down the government again."

On the other site of the Capitol, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced companion legislation for a 2.6 percent pay raise on Jan. 29. The Senate's Republican majority represents an obstacle to the bill reaching the president's desk. The Senate did, however, approve a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees by a 96 to 2 margin in the December funding bill that ultimately stalled and prompted the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not indicated when or if the Senate will take up the new measure.

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