That raise is slightly higher than the 1 percent federal employees received for fiscal 2015, but is still low by historic standards. However, Obama does not need Congress for this pay raise to become law.

The president has the authority to propose a pay raise for federal employees and members of the military if Congress does not pass a bill addressing the issue. However, Congress can still pass a bill freezing pay or enacting a higher pay raise.

The last time federal employees received a pay raise above 3 percent was in 2009, when feds got a 3.9 percent pay raise. That was followed by several years of pay freezes.

Some lawmakers are already pushing for a much bigger pay raise.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D.-Va, and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, have proposed a 3.8 percent pay raise in the House and the Senate, saying the legislation will help feds keep pace with private sector wage growth and help reduce attrition and boost morale.

See also: Obama wants 34,000 more federal employees in 2016

See also: Obama wants to reorganize, merge federal agencies

But the pay raise is still less than the overall 2.3 percent increase in private-sector wages, according to Richard Thissen, the president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

He said the administration should start closing the gaps between public and private-sector wages after years of low raises and pay freezes.

"The effects of recent years of financial hardship have left their mark on federal workers, as evidenced by the retirement wave and shrinking numbers of younger workers entering civil service," Thissen said.

The 1.3 percent pay raise is only slightly better than the "paltry" 1 percent feds received last year, according to American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox.

""Let's be real – a 1.3 percent pay raise will be eaten up by higher costs for groceries, health care and other essentials. Like other middle-class workers, federal employees need a meaningful pay raise to make up for years of stagnant wages, and unfortunately the president's proposal falls short," Cox said.

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