COLA, yes — pay raise? Maybe

Just a couple of months ago it appeared that federal workers would not be getting any across-the-board pay raise in January .

At the same time, both ends of the Federal Employees Retirement System — dealing with what you pay in and what you get in retirement — were being prepped for major surgery by the White House and the House of Representatives. The president, who granted feds a 1.9 percent raise in January,  said there would be no raise in 2019. The plan was to “reform” and streamline civil service procedures.

Today, the House is in recess until after Labor Day. Proposed changes in FERS, which would require you to pay 6 percent more for the benefit while cost-of-living adjustments would be eliminated for retirees, seem less urgent. The midterm election has leaders and rank-and-file-members of both political parties nervous.

Oh, and the Senate has endorsed a 1.9 percent federal pay raise for January 2019. It is identical to the Trump-proposed 2018 increase which was 1.4 percent across-the-board plus 5 percent for locality pay.

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That gave feds in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and other areas a total 2.2 percent increase. Meanwhile, it is showing little, as in no interest in either civil service reforms or big cuts in the FERS program, which covers the vast majority of federal and postal workers. It helps that the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that private sector compensation costs rose 2.6 percent in 2017, and that the wages portion of that is up 2.8 percent. During the same period inflation was up 1.9 percent.

See the increase by occupation in the private sector here.

With two months left to go in the inflation-tracker-countdown federal, military and Social Security retirees are on track for a raise of 2.7 percent. Maybe more? That COLA is not subject to action by Congress or the White House.

President Donald Trump says he will engineer a government shutdown if Congress does not approve funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Veteran Washington watchers know that shutdowns produce unintended consequences, and right or wrong Republicans usually take the blame for reduced services, closed national parks and other collateral damage.

Many Republicans have been looking at the numbers of federal, postal workers and retirees in their districts. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) said last week she will not vote for supporting a government shutdown. Her district just across the Potomac River from D.C. is red-trending-blue. Fed-filled congressional districts in Maryland that surround D.C. are solidly Democratic at the presidential and congressional level.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By: Amelia Brust

The most sued mascot in Major League Baseball is the Phillie Phanatic. It has been sued at least four times, the most recent case being in June when a woman claimed she was injured in the face by a hot dog-launching gun.

Source: ABC 6 and Philly.com