House Democrats proposed legislation this week that would give more than 2 million federal workers an 8.7% pay raise in 2024, a raise they say is needed because they suffered through both the COVID pandemic and the Trump administration.
“For years now, federal employees have risked their health and safety working on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who sponsored the bill. “They were subjected to the Trump Administration’s cruel personal attacks, unsafe work environments, pay freezes, government shutdowns, sequestration cuts, furloughs, and mindless across-the-board hiring freezes.”
“Still, our federal workforce serves with dedication and distinction every day,” he said. “Federal employees are our government’s single greatest asset, and they deserve better.”
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Connolly’s Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or the FAIR Act, would give federal workers an average 8.7% pay raise next year, following the 4.6% raise they received this year. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the same bill in the Senate, and said the raise is warranted.
“Whether inspecting our food, conducting medical research, or caring for our veterans, federal workers play an important role in our everyday lives and deserve pay which reflects that,” said Senator Schatz. “After years of pay freezes, our bill gives these dedicated public servants a much-deserved raise.”
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The bill is also backed by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. The group’s president, William Shackelford, said raises are needed to “counteract a tightening labor market and increasing private-sector pay, rising costs of living and an impending federal retirement wave.”
Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the raise would help federal agencies “recruit and retain the workers we need to keep the country running.”
Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said the raise is a minimal step toward making federal workers whole in the face of rising inflation, which many economists say reflects rising government spending.
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“The 8.7% increase listed in the FAIR Act is not a pay raise,” Erwin said. “It is the minimum increase needed to offset the dwindling checking accounts of public servants, and it is critical to recruiting and retaining the best possible workforce.”
President Biden signed an executive order late last year giving federal workers a 4.6% pay raise in 2023, an act that Congress chose not to override in the $1.7 trillion spending bill it passed at the end of the year.