A fiscal 2019 appropriations bill including a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees passed its first legislative hurdle June 19 after being reported out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government for full appropriations committee consideration.

“This is a responsible bill that boosts our national economy, financial security and government accountability, and I urge the Senate to pass it without delay,” said Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford, R-Okla.

The pay increase is equal to that approved in the FY18 budget, which Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., called “well deserved,” and it contradicts the pay freeze requested under the President’s FY19 Budget Proposal.

“President Trump has promised to freeze federal wages next year, even though federal workers are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade. Federal employees have had their pay and benefits cut by over $200 billion since 2011, and they are earning nearly 5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.

“This modest pay adjustment would help prevent federal employees from falling further behind next year and help federal agencies recruit and retain the high-caliber workforce that the public expects and deserves. I thank all the members of the subcommittee for including this increase in the spending bill and we look forward to working with the Senate and House to ensure this provision becomes law.”

The bill also impacts pay for federal contractors, by prohibiting bonuses and awards for those deemed to be underperforming in their work.

In addition to pay increases, the bill would lend support to digital initiatives within the government, such as projects to replace and retire legacy IT systems at the IRS and $2 million for improvements to oversight.gov.

“Oversight.gov has improved the accessibility and prominence of their work, and I’m confident this effort will produce even greater savings in the future by maintaining an open IG recommendations database at oversight.gov,” said Lankford.

The full committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill June 21, at which both Lankford and Coons said they hoped the bill would be passed seamlessly onto the Senate floor.

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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