Federal employees who were hoping to find out what the president plans to propose for their 2022 pay raise will have to wait a while longer. The budget announcement from the White House yesterday turned out to be a teaser for the full budget proposal due out later this spring.
“Later this spring, the Administration will release the President’s Budget, which will present a unified, comprehensive plan to address the overlapping challenges we face in a fiscally and economically responsible way,” according to an April 9 press release from the Office of Management and Budget.
Possible 2022 Pay Raise Amounts
So, how much might President Biden propose for the 2022 federal employee pay raise?
One bill that was put on the table earlier this year would give current federal employees a 3.2% pay raise in 2022. However, that is unlikely to gain much traction. The bill is one that has been introduced each of the last several years by its sponsors, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) in the House and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in the Senate, but it has never become the final word on a pay raise. However, it does serve as a starting point for the debate over an amount for a possible raise.
Federal News Network reported that the White House is considering proposing a 2.7% raise for federal employees next year.
Whatever amount that ends up getting proposed by the White House in its annual budget proposal is not the final figure, however.
The Pay Raise Process
Assuming President Biden suggests a 2022 pay raise figure in the upcoming budget proposal, this will be the first step in determining a raise for federal workers next year which will then play out over the rest of the year. Congress could ultimately override whatever the White House proposes under the law.
There are years in which Congress will pass legislation that contains an annual federal pay increase. There are also years in which Congress does not pass legislation addressing a pay raise. If and when Congress passes legislation stipulating a pay raise for the federal workforce, it is usually done through a general appropriations bill.
When federal appropriations bills do not address a pay raise, federal pay adjustments are governed by the Federal Employees’ Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) but that legislation is not necessarily the final say either.
This is because the president can, and usually does, propose an alternative pay raise that ignores the FEPCA formula. If the president determines that “because of national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,” a pay adjustment would be inappropriate based on FEPCA, he can propose a different figure. This normally happens if Congress has not taken its own actions.
In other words, whatever the president proposes for a raise will step 1 and Congress could later influence the figure through legislation during the year.
A History of Federal Pay Raises
How have federal employees fared with raises in the last half century? Check out our other article which shows the average annual raises since 1970: 50 Years of Federal Pay: Democrats v. Republicans.