President Obama has signed into law the bill passed by Congress on December 21st that continues funding the federal government through March 4, 2011.
The White House statement put its own version of good news out with its statement on the signing of the bill which reads:
H.R. 3082, which provides FY 2011 appropriations through Friday, March 4, 2011, for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government by further amending Public Law (P.L.) 111-242, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. In addition, H.R. 3082 extends authority for current surface transportation programs to ensure that State departments of transportation and local transit agencies will be able to continue their ongoing infrastructure investments.
There was no mention of the pay freeze and no doubt that the President would sign the bill but it does make official the two year pay freeze that has been the source of so many comments and consternation by many of our readers.
The pay freeze was first proposed by President Obama three weeks ago, but required the approval of Congress. That approval came through with yesterday’s passage of the continuing resolution to fund the government.
Federal employees will remain eligible for awards as well as within-grade step increases. Those promotions are based on job performance and time spent in the position. The new Congress could, of course, also take action to freeze these pay increases as well and some in Congress have said this is a step they would like to take. (See Another (More Substantive) Pay Freeze for Federal Employees In the Congressional Pipeline?)
Also, the deficit commission has recommended additional action that would restrict the pay and benefits for federal workers and two senators have indicated they will use that commission report as a basis for starting work on deficit reduction early next year. These proposals could impact how federal retirement annuities are calculated to significant changes in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB) (See Commission Proposes “High-Three” to “High-Five” for Retirement, Pay Freeze and Changes to FEHB for Federal Employees)
Political reality, of course, may yield results much different from press releases issued by politicians with their own agendas. And, with the Republicans and Democrats now more evenly divided at the federal government level, even if some of this legislation that is being discussed should be passed by Congress, it is subject to a presidential veto.
We will let readers know if and when new legislative proposals are proposed and how the proposed legislation would impact the federal community.
For those looking for good news, Christmas is this Saturday and most readers will have a paid holiday on Friday, December 24th. According to the Office of Personnel Management: “December 25, 2010 (the legal public holiday for Christmas Day), falls on a Saturday. For most Federal employees, Friday, December 24, will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes.”
Numerous readers have written to ask if they will be getting an additional paid holiday on Thursday or at least have Thursday afternoon off in addition to Friday. No word has been forthcoming on that possibility. Our guess is that there will not be additional time off given to the federal workforce this week. If that changes, we will promptly issue an alert so anyone who missed the notice won’t go to work unnecessarily.
Merry Christmas to all of our readers!