In a 325-98 vote, the House passed legislation today that provides for an automatic 1.8% pay raise for military members. While there is not a stated provision inside of the legislation dictating the pay increase, it is effectively being supported by doing nothing as the pay increase will be an automatic 1.8% next year based on the employment cost index and the growth in private-sector wages.
Military personnel received an across-the-board pay raise of 1.7% in 2013 and a 1% pay raise in 2014. President Obama has proposed a 1% pay raise for federal workers in 2015. In the absence of action by Congress, the president has authority to raise federal employee pay based on the Employment Cost Index and he may have that option again in 2015. (See Will Feds Get a Pay Raise in 2014?)
Will federal employees get a larger pay increase if the military ends up with a 1.8% pay increase? It is unknown at this point but for political reasons seems doubtful. As we wrote earlier this week:
2014 is an election year and the pay raise question for 2015 is largely a political decision. With a very slow economic recovery, high unemployment, an unpopular federal government, and a perception among some that federal employees are paid more than those in the private sector doing similar jobs, providing a higher pay raise for federal employees is a tough sell for those in Congress running for re-election. The reality is that it is easier to convince Congress to pass a higher pay raise for military personnel while there is still a war (or armed conflict, or other softer terms for a war) going on overseas. If there is a differential between military and civilian pay again in 2015, this is likely to be the rationale for the difference.