On Jan. 30, legislation offered by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11th), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, to give federal employees a 2.6 percent pay increase, passed the House of the Representatives. Connolly is probably best known locally as the former Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors from 2003 to 2011, and now represents the 11th Congressional District, anchored in Fairfax County.
His new bill, H.R. 790, the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019, would bring the 2019 pay increase for civilian federal employees in line with the raise given to members of the military.
Currently, under President Trump’s pay freeze, civilian employees will see no increase in pay, while members of the military have received an increase of 2.6 percent for calendar year 2019.
“On the heels of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, I believe it is appropriate for the House of Representatives to take up legislation to show federal employees that we in Congress appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifices they make,” Connolly said on the House Floor.
“This bill is a down payment on treating our federal workforce with the respect it deserves,” Connolly said.
The legislation is cosponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), David Trone (D-MD), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Companion legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
“This modest pay increase is justified by the hardships federal employees have suffered in recent years. Since 2011, federal employees have contributed nearly $200 billion to deficit reduction. They have had to endure government shutdowns – including the longest one in U.S. history – pay freezes, hiring freezes, and lost pay as a result of sequestration-related furloughs. In nine of the last ten years, Congress has failed to enact an increase to basic pay for federal employees that matches or exceeds the amount called for in statute. In eight of the last ten years, basic pay increases have trailed increases in the cost of living,” Connolly added.
The bill, which will now go to the US Senate where it may face opposition along party lines, is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Federal Managers Association.
Nearly 85 percent of federal employees live outside of the D.C. region, and one in three federal civilian employees are veterans. More than 900,000 federal employees make less than $60,000 per year. Connolly is also a cosponsor of legislation that would give back pay to federal contractors who were affected by the recent shutdown.