Draft Spending Bill Proposes Overriding 2020 Pay Freeze

A draft spending bill put forth in the House contains a pay raise for federal employees in 2020.

A draft spending bill released by the House contains a proposal for a 3.1% pay raise for federal employees.

If enacted, the raise would override the pay freeze has been proposed by the White House for 2020. Since the pay freeze is the official recommendation by the president, it would ultimately go into effect unless Congress takes action to override it with legislation, and the draft appropriations bill represents the first step of this process.

Earlier this year, bills were introduced by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) to give federal employees a 3.6% pay raise. The pair of lawmakers have introduced such legislation each year for several years in a row now, however the amounts they have proposed for a raise have not ever been adopted by Congress.

The House has proposed something close to this figure though with its recommendation of a 3.1% pay raise. The draft spending bill notes that the pay raise would be 2.6% with an additional 0.5% increase in locality pay. In order for the raise to take effect next year, the spending bill would have to pass both the House and the Senate and get signed into law.

In past years, the recommendation by the president has often been the final pay raise (or freeze) given to federal workers since Congress never took any action to override the proposal. 2019 became an exception to this when Congress override President Trump’s proposed pay freeze with a 1.9% pay raise that was applied retroactively.

What About Retirees?

Whenever we write about an annual pay raise, we always get questions from retired federal employees wanting to know what the increase will be to their annuity payments.

The annual pay raise that has been proposed by the House does not apply to retired federal employees. Any increases to annuity payments are governed by an automatic cost of living adjustment (COLA) based on the CPI-W which is determined every October by an automatic formula. You can read more about the differences between the COLA and the pay raise here: COLAs, Locality Pay, and Raises.

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.