Amid a hiring freeze and anticipated reduction in the workforce, Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., is again trying to secure a pay bump for federal employees.
Connolly rolled out another iteration of his Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act on Jan. 31, calling for a 3.2 percent raise for federal employees for 2018.
Trying to secure a pay raise for federal employees through the FAIR Act has been a white whale of sorts for Connolly, who previously introduced the bill in 2014, 2015 and 2016, seeing little legislative traction.
The bill may get little love this year as well, facing the steep challenge of navigating a GOP-controlled House and Senate before reaching a president with designs on reducing the workforce.
But the Virginia congressman — whose constituency consists of many federal workers — said the group has been wrongly maligned by the administration and the House, following the reinstitution of the Holman Rule, which allows it to make program or employee cuts in its appropriation bills.
"For too long Republicans have bullied our federal workforce, falsely painting the civil servant as the scapegoat for all our country's problems," Connolly said in a statement.
"They’ve endured shutdowns and furloughs, attacks on pay and benefits, and an across-the-board hiring freeze. Their hard work was questioned. Now, thanks to the Armageddon Rule, even individual positions could be on the congressional chopping block."
Connolly proposed a 5.3 percent raise in last year’s FAIR Act, but opted for a middle-of-the-road approach for this year’s bill following a 2.1 percent raise by then-President Obama for fiscal 2017.
The bill calls for a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise, coupled with a 1.2 percent locality pay bump.
The measure won support from the National Treasury Employees Union and its president, Tony Reardon, who decried the disparity in pay increases federal employees face compared to the private sector.
"Federal employees are dedicated public servants. They are highly trained and educated and work hard every day to help all Americans," Reardon said in a statement. "They should not have to accept substandard pay raises and face continual attacks on their rights and benefits."