The House of Representatives approved a $1.047 trillion stopgap spending bill on Thursday to avert a government shutdown. Since President Obama recently said that a pay raise will not be given to federal employees until Congress passes a budget, this puts an extended pay freeze one step closer to becoming reality.
The temporary spending bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown when the fiscal year runs out on September 30. The measure will give the government the funds it needs to operate for another six months, so if it’s passed by the Senate and signed into law, this would mean the pay freeze will continue until at least April.
President Obama said in a letter to Congress in August that he would use his authority to give federal employees a 0.5% pay raise in 2013, but only if Congress passes a budget.
Congress seems reluctant to engage any major legislation or debates until after the November election which would certainly include a budget debate. In fact, the stopgap spending bill represents a bit of a bipartisan move since it contains spending that is $19 billion higher than the budget Paul Ryan wrote, indicating that Ryan and other Republicans acquiesced in their decision to pass the measure.
The measure permits an across-the-board 0.6% increase to agency budgets in accordance with the budget deal agreed to last summer. It also maintains spending on domestic programs rather than shifting $8 billion from domestic programs to the Pentagon.