- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2023

President Biden’s proposed budget will call for a 5.2% pay hike for all federal employees.

The raise would go into effect next January and will be a key part of Mr. Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal 2024 starting Oct. 1. It would be the largest pay increase for roughly 2 million federal workers since President Jimmy Carter proposed a 9.1% increase in 1980.

White House officials and the Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on the measure.

Mr. Biden on Thursday will unveil his budget, which lays out his vision for the future of America and his reelection themes. However, it is likely dead on arrival in a Congress controlled by Republicans, who have already signaled they oppose any salary increase.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, accused the president of putting the federal bureaucracy ahead of the American people as inflation runs rampant.

“President Biden and Democrats’ reckless government spending created historic inflation, which has made the cost of everything from groceries to energy increase for the American people,” Mr. Comer said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Now President Biden is continuing to ensure that federal workers’ pay and benefits are insulated from the price tag of inflation, but it will be paid for by American taxpayers who continue to be harmed by the Biden administration’s inflationary policies.”

Federal employee unions and Democratic lawmakers had been pushing for an 8.7% increase, but it is unclear why the administration balked at the figure. Several federal employee unions did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents roughly 150,000 federal workers, called Mr. Biden‘s 5.2% a “solid first step,” but added in a statement, “We believe rising costs and previous years of inadequate pay increases warrant the average 8.7% adjustment. An average 8.7% adjustment would go further in helping federal agencies recruit and retain the employees they need to meet their important missions.”

Mr. Biden’s call for significant salary boosts underscores his tight relationship with federal employee unions. The unions have enjoyed significant benefits in the Biden administration compared with President Donald Trump, who frequently criticized the federal workforce.

Mr. Biden‘s 5.2% pay hike would go on top of the 4.6% increase that came from his executive order in December. 

Upon taking office, Mr. Biden rescinded Mr. Trump’s executive orders that restricted the bargaining rights of federal workers and removed some civil service protections. Mr. Biden also relaxed telework standards for federal workers even after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic passed despite criticism from Republicans and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has urged federal workers to return to their offices.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, twice proposed freezing civil servants’ salaries but ultimately granted small raises each year under his administration, ranging from 1% to 3.1%

Mr. Biden’s two previous federal budgets for fiscal 2021 and 2022 have also called for 5.2% pay increases for federal workers. The 5.2% comes from a federal pay law that ties salary increases to a Labor Department index of private-sector wage growth.

At the time, both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats, who did not take a position on the pay increase, thus letting them take effect by default as stipulated by the federal pay law.

Correction: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the National Treasury Employees Union’s representation of federal employees.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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