What’s Going on with the 2020 Pay Raise?

What is the status of a possible pay raise for federal employees in 2020? Here is where things currently stand.

News about a possible pay raise next year for federal employees has been quiet lately. Have you been wondering what is happening? Here is the latest available information.

Pay Freeze Recommendation from White House

The White House previously went on record as being in favor of a pay freeze in 2020. The president has until the end of August to formally transmit an alternate pay plan for federal employees in 2020. Presumably, the president will formalize his recommendation for a pay freeze before the end of August.

Last year, this happened at almost the very end of the month. The pay freeze that President Trump recommended at that time took effect at the start of 2019. Although it is unusual, Congress overrode the freeze retroactively with a 1.9% pay raise.

Actions to Date from Congress on a Pay Raise

What the president is recommending will ultimately stand for next year unless Congress acts to override it again this year.

The House passed a spending bill over the summer that authorized a 3.1% pay raise for federal employees in 2020. However, the Senate will still have to approve legislation and it would need to be signed by the president to become law.

The White House issued a veto threat over the House’s pay raise bill, but there is no way to know for sure if a veto would ultimately be issued. Realistically, if the pay raise were part of a larger spending package that had bipartisan agreement, it is less likely to be vetoed.

Congress also passed a budget agreement this summer that was signed into law. While this is some progress, federal employees are not in the clear yet on a raise.

The agreement that was passed is just the initial framework usually referred to as the authorization process. Congress next has to pass individual appropriations bills that are the nuts and bolts of the overarching budget bill, and these are what would contain a pay raise. That appropriations process is expected to begin in September when Congress returns from recess.


We will see more activity at the end of the month on a pay raise (or freeze) in 2020. Presumably, President Trump will reiterate his recommendation on a pay freeze next year, but that doesn’t mean Congress won’t override it when lawmakers return to Washington and begin work on passing appropriations bills. We will continue to keep you up to date on the status of a 2020 pay raise and any new information that comes along.

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.