What’s the Latest on the 2019 Pay Raise?

It’s looking increasingly likely that federal employees will get a pay raise next year following reports of a tentative agreement reached in Congress.

It’s looking more likely that federal employees will get a pay raise next year based on new reports that came out today.

The Washington Post reported that a deal between Republicans in the House and the Senate on a spending bill includes a 1.9% pay raise next year for federal workers. The Senate had previously approved a 1.9% pay increase, but the House had left it off its spending bills.

Including the pay raise on the House side has been championed by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA). She represents a district that is home to quite a few federal employees, and the matter of the pay raise is expected to be a significant factor in her reelection campaign this year. A recent poll showed Comstock trailing her Democratic challenger, state senator Jennifer Wexton by 7 points.

“I’ve been making the case for the rank-and-file side. I’m confident we will get it. We need to retain talent in the federal government,” Comstock told the Washington Post.

She also issued the following statement about the tentative agreement:

I am pleased that an agreement has been reached to provide our federal employees with the raises they have earned and deserve. This is an important complement to our providing the largest pay raise to our military in almost a decade and it is a strong sign of our respect and support for the essential work done by our federal employees.

I appreciate the support of Chairman Frelinghuysen and Chairman Graves in working with us to achieve this important priority.

With our strong, booming economy, it is essential that we keep our federal salaries competitive so we attract the talent in the civilian workforce that is needed for our national security, homeland security, law enforcement, and medical research jobs and more.

The pay freezes that occurred for 3 years during the Obama Administration hurt our federal employees and we will continue fighting for competitive compensation and work with the coalition of Members throughout the country who represent our federal employees – 5 out of 6 of whom live outside the Washington Metropolitan area.

President Trump recommended freezing pay when he sent his annual alternative pay plan letter to Congress in August. However, Congress can still override that decision.

Under current law, Congress can take action to set the federal pay raise (or lack thereof) for the coming year, but more often than not, the president sets it and Congress remains silent on the issue. This is the first year in some time that we have seen a break in this usual pattern.

Done Deal?

Despite Comstock’s optimism, federal employees may not want to spend the additional money just yet because the deal is not yet finalized.

Government Executive also reported that Democrats are opposed to the deal because it includes “‘partisan’ add-ons.”

The article also quoted a Democratic aide who said that there currently is no deal.

“House and Senate Republicans have made a joint offer that includes the 1.9 percent pay raise as well as numerous other provisions that are much more partisan. House and Senate Democrats oppose many elements of the Republican proposal, so negotiations will have to continue before a bipartisan agreement is reached,” the aide told Government Executive.

We will continue to keep you informed of any additional developments regarding next year’s pay raise.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.