No pay hike for feds in Senate funding bill

Congress is looking to pass a full slate of appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021 instead of a stopgap continuing resolution by Dec. 11, when the current temporary funding bill expires.

Included in the Senate funding package released today is a pay freeze for federal employees for next year.

The Trump administration had proposed a 1% increase for federal civilian employees for 2021 in its February budget request. The House-passed Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill essentially comported with that request.

Even a 1% pay increase might not mean much for federal employees, who are facing higher retirement contributions and higher health insurance premium payments in 2021.

The Republican-controlled Senate waited until after the election to release its funding bills. The bills were not subject to markup in committee, as is the usual practice. The House passed 10 of its 12 appropriations bills in July. House bills covering the Department of Homeland Security and the legislative branch are still pending.

Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement that he was "disappointed" by the majority sidestepping amendments at the committee level.

"This is an important part of the process when developing legislation," Leahy said. "It would have given all members a chance to weigh in and publicly debate these bills."

Leahy said some of the bills reflect bipartisan effort at the committee level, but he's concerned about funding levels for COVID-19 relief and recovery. There could be a push for a new tranche of pandemic relief in the lame duck session of Congress. An effort to come to agreement on a $1 trillion-plus relief package was scuppered just before the election.

Congress has until Dec.11 to pass some funding measure to avoid a government shutdown – either a full slate of appropriations bills, another continuing resolution or some mix of full-year funding and stopgap legislation.

The Senate bill also looks to boost funding for the Office of Personnel Management to $325 million – up $25 million over fiscal year 2020. The legislative report accompanying the bill urges the agency to focus on cybersecurity and IT transformation.

The bill also blocks the Thrift Savings Plan from investing in countries that don't permit U.S. accounting regulators from looking at company finances – China being the most notable of these. The move extends an administration initiative to curb planned investments in a global fund that included Chinese companies which resulted in the replacement of three of the five members of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board earlier this year.

Reader comments

Wed, Nov 18, 2020

Yes once again the 1 percent at the top reap the benefits while the everyday person gets dumped on once again. The Republicans are a total disgrace and unrecognizable from what they once were.

Tue, Nov 17, 2020

Cortez needs a COLA, hair cuts cost $200.00 in DC land!

Sat, Nov 14, 2020

Republicans, thanks for bailing out the top 1% and leaving the rest of us to struggle.

Thu, Nov 12, 2020

Cortez, Schumer, McConnel, Pelosi, Paul and all the other stooges will make secret deals and give themselves a 30% cola for one reason only, they have done nothing their entire careers except soaking the American taxpayer. Pitiful poor excuses for what is supposedly running this country. The American public continues to be duped into voting for these lazy do nothing minions.

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