Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., dropped his much-anticipated new Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act on Feb. 23, proposing a 5.3 percent raise for all federal employees in 2017.
This is Connolly's third try at the FAIR Act. The 2014 version called for 3.3 percent raise, while the 2015 bill upped the mark to 3.8 percent. The new version raises that mark to 3.9 percent and tacks on a 1.4 percent hike in locality pay.
"No other group has been asked to sacrifice more than our federal workforce, who have endured years of pay freezes, increased retirement contributions, no locality pay, sequestration cuts and a government shutdown," Connolly said in a statement. "This bill is a down payment on trying to help restore some of the losses that have been incurred by our dedicated federal employees, and I hope demonstrates we value their public service."
The bill is in line with the 5.3 percent raise that employee unions like the American Federation of Government Employees had been advocating for in 2017 and had been anticipated for the past two weeks.
The delay may have resulted from the logjam of congressmen House members who have signed onto co-sponsored the measure. In all, 32 members have signed onto the bill, including Maryland representatives Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Chris Van Hollen.
Connolly also received local support from Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., alongside scores of other Democratic House members backing the proposal.
"Federal employees have been the perennial punching bag for many of our colleagues despite the high quality of their work under unprecedented circumstances," Norton said in a statement. "Surely, it must be acknowledged that they have earned a pay raise as they have taken on much more work throughout these sequester years. Years of cuts, which have even eaten into pensions, have left federal employees far behind their private sector counterparts."
The bill has unsurprisingly won broad endorsement from 31 federal employee unions and associations, including AFGE, National Treasury Employees Union, National Association for Active and Retired Federal Employees, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Federation of Federal Employees and others.
Connolly's previous versions of the FAIR Act were not taken up by committee.