Just weeks into 2021, some members of Congress are already looking to cement a record-high pay raise for federal employees in 2022.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act in the House Jan. 21, which would provide federal employees with a total 3.2 percent pay increase on their 2022 paychecks. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
That pay increase would consist of a 2.2 percent basic pay adjustment and a 1 percent increase to locality pay, which is used to balance income for feds living in expensive parts of the country.
“Federal employees have scapegoated for four long years,” said Connolly in a news release.
“They’ve worked tirelessly throughout a global pandemic, risking their lives in service to the American people. And how has the Trump administration thanked them? With cruel personal attacks, unsafe work environments, pay freezes, government shutdowns, sequestration cuts, furloughs and a mindless across-the-board hiring freeze. Still, our federal workforce serves with dedication and distinction every day. They deserve better. The FAIR Act is critical step towards recognizing their contributions and providing fair and just compensation.”
Both congressmen have introduced similarly titled legislation in the 115th and 116th Congresses, though the most recent iteration would have increased pay by 3.6 percent.
Still, the proposed 3.2 percent increase would surpass 2020′s 3.1 percent increase, which was the largest feds had received in a decade.
“Federal workers play an important role in our everyday lives. They’re caring for our veterans, providing critical research to help fight the pandemic, and cutting our social security checks,” said Schatz in a news release.
“After suffering through furloughs and pay freezes over the past few years, these hardworking public servants deserve a raise — and our bill will make sure they finally get one.”
Federal employees received only a one percent basic pay increase this year, after Congress declined to include employee pay provisions in their government spending package, which defaulted the pay adjustment to what was proposed by the White House in February 2020. That increase did not include a locality pay adjustment, as the Trump administration argued that the 20.67 percent increase needed to keep federal pay in line with standard calculations would have been too expensive for the government to manage.
“Being a federal employee is about public service, not personal wealth, but federal employees deserve wages that pay the bills, send their kids to college, save for the future and help ensure they resist the temptation to leave for higher paychecks in the private sector,” National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon said in a statement.
“We commend the sponsors of the FAIR Act for their commitment to taking care of the frontline workers who take care of all of us.”
President Joe Biden has committed his support for “consistent and regular” pay increases for federal employees under his administration.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.