President Barack Obama will propose a 1 percent pay increase for both civilian and Defense Department employees in his fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress.
An administration official confirmed the decision to ask Congress to for the pay raise, which would be the second year in a row federal employees pay was increased by 1 percent after a three-year pay freeze. The President is expected to submit his budget to Congress on March 4.
“It reflects the tight budget constraints we continue to face, while also recognizing the critical role these civilian employees play in our country — doing everything from assuring the safety of our food and airways, to securing our borders, to providing health care to veterans, to searching for cures to diseases,” the official said in an email. “It also recognizes the sacrifices they have already made through prior pay freezes, reductions in awards, and furloughs due to sequestration last year. This modest pay increase will help the government remain competitive in attracting and retaining the Nation’s best and brightest individuals for public service.”
The official said senior uniformed military leadership, including Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended the pay raise of 1 percent for service members and civilians.
“The pay increase is part of a larger package of compensation reforms that our military leadership has recommended to control rising compensation costs and allow for investments in the training, equipment and support that our troops need,” the official said.
The Washington Post first reported the proposed pay raise.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, praised President Obama’s proposed cost-of-living adjustment for federal employees.
“This modest COLA would go a long way in further recognizing the value of federal employees and help bring to a close years of pay freezes,” she said, in a statement. “I’m proud to fight on the front lines on behalf of federal employee pay just as federal employees work on the front lines each and every day on behalf of the American people. Federal employees have been undervalued and underappreciated for too long. Each and every day, federal employees stand up for America.”
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, called the 1 percent pay increase inadequate.
“Federal employees have endured years of pay freezes and cuts in retirement benefits,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said, in a statement. “Federal employees deserve a meaningful pay raise, not a token increase that will be more than eaten up by rising living costs, including higher retirement and healthcare costs.”
The first raise in three years for federal employees comes as their health insurance costs increased on average by 3.7 percent. The rate under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program increased by 3.4 percent on average in 2013 too.
“President Obama has said that his upcoming budget will reflect an ‘end to austerity.’ We wholeheartedly support that,” Cox said. “But a 1 percent pay raise for federal employees who have seen more austerity than anyone else is pitiful. It’s time for the country to invest in all its workers, including the dedicated federal employees who protect and serve the American people.”