Political Intrigue: Will Congress Derail 2017 Pay Raise? Will Government Shutdown?

Will there be a government shutdown? Will Congress derail the annual federal pay raise? A continuing resolution is in process but funding expires on Friday.

The current spending authority for the government expires Friday.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has just introduced a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.R. 2028) to prevent a government shutdown and continue funding for federal programs and services. The resolution would extend funding until April 28, 2017.

The legislation also contains funding for emergency disaster relief.

Chairman Rogers made the following statement on introducing the continuing resolution:

This Continuing Resolution is the necessary step for an operating and functioning government over the next four months. However, this type of short-term spending absolutely should not be the final answer to funding the federal government for the year. It is imperative that Congress complete its work on the remaining 11 Appropriations bills to ensure the proper and responsible use of tax dollars, to provide necessary resources for important programs and services, and to hold federal agencies accountable to the American people.

Impact on the 2017 Federal Employee Pay Raise

Of interest to many readers is the impact this legislation could have on a pay raise in 2017. President Obama has sent an alternative pay plan to Congress that would provide for an average pay raise of 1.6%. While many readers may think this was the final step in the annual pay raise process, it is not. Congress does not have to accept the alternative pay plan.

There is no indication there will be any changes in the alternative pay plan.  (See Alternative Pay Plan Submitted for Federal Employees in 2017: 1.6% Average Raise)

Approval of this spending bill would probably be the decisive step for a 2017 federal pay raise. Congress can overturn the alternative pay plan before 2017. The annual spending bill would usually be the legislative vehicle for Congress to exercise its authority on the pay raise. There does not appear to be any attempt to change the current proposal for an average raise of 1.6%. No doubt, many readers will feel a sense of relief when legislation passes and the pay raise drama ends.

Members of Congress last received a pay raise in 2009.

Will Congress Approve Continuing Resolution?

The House will probably vote on the CR very quickly. The Senate may not take up the CR until Friday. And, if the Congress does pass the bill, the president could veto it.

Politics will undoubtedly pay a role in approval of disapproval of the continuing resolution. Any number of issues could arise. Pressure will be on both parties to approve the CR in order to avoid another government shutdown. It is likely to be approved in some form but the brinksmanship by Congressional leaders will no doubt continue until the last minute.

The CR extends funding for operations for most federal agencies, programs and services until April 28, 2017. It maintains the current budget cap level of $1.07 trillion put into place under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Adding to the intrigue, the continuing resolution provides funding for a number of other issues including continued health care benefits for some retired miners under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefit Plan. It also addresses Overseas Contingency Funding, Natural Disaster Relief, drinking water issues, and a variety of issues ranging from nuclear weapons activities, preventing a pay increase or Members of Congress, and many others.

There is plenty of room in the CR for political disputes to arise. We will know in the near future whether this attempt to fund the federal government until the end of April will be successful.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47