We’ve Got a Budget. Where is Your Raise?

A budget agreement has been passed for the federal government. What does this mean for a pay raise next year?

So the big news this week is that the Senate passed budget legislation that outlines a massive spending plan for the next two years in the government. President Trump has signed the bill into law and it is being touted as a bipartisan agreement.

So does this mean federal employees are getting a raise in 2020?

Not just yet…

The agreement that was passed is just the initial framework usually referred to as the authorization process. Once it is signed into law, Congress then has to start passing individual appropriations bills that are the nuts and bolts of the overarching budget bill. It is these appropriations bills that will make or break a pay raise for federal employees in 2020. That appropriations process is expected to begin in September when Congress returns from its current recess.

Status of the Pay Raise

The White House has proposed a pay freeze in 2020 for federal employees, however, the House recently drafted and then passed an appropriations bill that contains a 3.1% pay raise next year for federal workers. As of the latest count, that is where things stand. That spending bill would have to be passed by the Senate and signed into law to officially override the proposed pay freeze.

However, the White House went on record shortly after the House bill passed issuing a veto threat. A policy statement from the White House said:

The Administration continues to support the alignment of pay with strategic human capital objectives. A 3.1 percent pay increase presents long-term fixed costs, yet fails to address the most strategic human capital issues facing the Federal workforce.

In past years, the recommendation for a pay raise (or freeze) for federal employees by the president has often been the final say since Congress never took any action to override the proposal. 2019 became an exception to this when Congress overrode President Trump’s proposed pay freeze with a 1.9% pay raise that was applied retroactively. This year Congress has taken a more active interest as well, so far anyway.

We will find out later in the year how the politics of the matter play out. FedSmith will, as always, continue to keep you informed of any new information that comes out.

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.