The annual tradition continues: A bicameral pair of Democrats have introduced new legislation designed to give federal employees a pay raise in 2022.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, has reintroduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act again this year.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
This time, they’re calling for a 3.2% federal pay raise for most civilian employees. Specifically, the bill includes a 2.2% across-the-board pay raise, plus a 1% locality pay adjustment. The legislation also calls for a 2.2% raise for prevailing rate employees.
This is the seventh consecutive year now that Connolly has introduced the FAIR Act in the House. Previous versions of this legislation called for a 3.5% federal pay raise in 2021, a 3.6% federal pay raise in 2020, a 3% boost in 2019, a 3.2% bump in 2018 and a 5.3% increase back in 2017.
Congress has never passed any version of the FAIR Act, and actual federal pay raises have fallen short of the legislation’s expectations most years.
But Congress has twice played a role in legislating federal pay raises for civilian employees over the last four years, once in 2020, when lawmakers appropriated a 3.1% increase, and again in 2019 after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“Federal employees have been scapegoated for four long years,” Connolly said. “They’ve worked tirelessly throughout a global pandemic, risking their lives in service to the American people.”
A formula in statute sets annual, across-the-board pay raises for General Schedule employees.
President Joe Biden has until the end of August to submit an alternative pay plan for federal employees to Congress. He may indicate his general thinking on a federal pay with his annual budget proposal.
“After suffering through furloughs and pay freezes over the past few years, these hardworking public servants deserve a raise — and our bill will makes sure they finally get one,” Schatz said.
The FAIR Act has support from the American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union and National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association, among others.
Several other House Democrats are cosponsors, including Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), and Reps. Jamie Raskin, John Sarbanes, David Trone, (Md.), and Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton (Va).
Another attempt to end the WEP, GPO
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced another bill designed to simply repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset.
The legislation, called the Social Security Fairness Act, comes from Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).
The WEP is a complicated relic from a 1983 law that reduces Social Security benefits for certain federal employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
Specifically, the WEP cuts Social Security benefits for federal employees who worked in Social Security-covered jobs, usually a position in the private sector, but also received a government annuity from their federal employment.
The GPO prevents certain federal retirees from collecting a government annuity based on their own in non-Social Security covered jobs and Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work record.
Various members of Congress have made multiple attempts to eliminate the WEP and GPO, or at least reduce its impact, over the course of the last decade. But those previous attempts have failed.
“This bill would provide much-needed relief for the millions of retirees and survivors currently affected by this inequitable practice and will improve fairness for future retirees,” Ken Thomas, NARFE national president, said Thursday in a statement. “Public servants already receive lower wages, on average, than those is the private sector. Government annuitants and their families are penalized yet again for their sacrifice through Social Security benefit reductions imposed by WEP and GPO, which disproportionately affect lower-earning households and widows. These individuals are unduly punished simply because they worked in the public sector on behalf of their country.”
According to NARFE, the WEP impacted nearly 1.8 million retired workers as of December 2019, while the GPO affected 707,879 beneficiaries.
The WEP does not apply to members of the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), because employees under that system already pay into Social Security.