Obama proposes federal pay hike after 3-year freeze

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At the start of the Labor Day weekend, President Obama proposed Friday to raise the pay of civilian federal employees by 1 percent, which would end a three-year freeze on their wages.

The president also proposed to raise the monthly basic pay for military service members by 1 percent.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Obama said civilian federal employees “have already made significant sacrifices” due to the pay freeze. He said he is balancing that consideration with the reality that “we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.”

Lawmakers have not shown much appetite for raising federal employees’ wages, despite Mr. Obama’s repeated proposals to do so. The spending bills in the Republican-led House for fiscal 2014 don’t contain any money for civilian pay raises.

Mr. Obama’s recommendation would keep locality pay rates for civilian employees at their 2013 levels.

The president also said he is “strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our nation over the past decade of war.” But he said the government faces “tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints faced by federal agencies.”

The president is gearing up for a September fiscal battle with congressional Republicans over rescinding the so-called “sequester” budget cuts that took effect in March for most federal agencies.

In 2012, Mr. Obama proposed to raise civilian pay by 0.5 percent, but Congress eventually rejected that proposal.

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