President Joe Biden’s proposed 4.6% federal pay raise has been silently approved by House appropriators.
On June 24th, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward on the fiscal 2023 financial services and general government bill, with a vote of 31 to 22 in favor of the bill. However, there was no acknowledgement of the federal employee pay raise proposal.
This silence is reminiscent of last year when House appropriators also declined to comment on the federal pay raise. They still backed the bill, which in essence endorses the White House’s 4.6% proposal from March’s budget request. In 2022, federal employees received an average pay raise of 2.7%.
The 4.6% pay raise is set to include military service members, according to this piece of the legislation. The White House did not specify locality pay in the across-the-board increase for 2023.
Democratic House lawmakers are still seeking a higher pay increase for federal employees. A 5.1% increase has been proposed by some lawmakers, a significant .5% increase to the 4.6% pay raise.
The Senate still needs to approve the spending bill for the pay raise to become official. There is a solid amount of time from now and that of the start of the upcoming fiscal year.
The House Appropriations Committee additionally considered and analyzed funding requests for agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration and more.
Importantly, spending for OPM includes a requested increase of roughly $70.9 million over the enacted level for 2022. This would in part fund increased oversight and transparency for the agency’s retirement services, which is a program that has struggled with ongoing processing delays as well as call center challenges.
Federal organizations like the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) Association support the language about retirement services that the bill highlights.
“We hope this increased attention will elevate the urgency of the administration’s efforts to solve these problems,” NARFE National President Ken Thomas said in a June 24 statement. “We understand OPM may be struggling with pandemic-related disruptions and that there are dedicated public servants at OPM retirement services who recognize the problems. But they must prevent the situation from deteriorating further and start making real progress to improve and modernize their processes to better serve those who spent careers serving their nation.”
During a recent press conference, OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said that she’s focused on improving retirement services. For example, the agency is currently piloting an online application for feds looking to retire.
The committee members also pointed to the President’s Management Agenda goal of strengthening the federal workforce, saying the funding request would support many of the White House’s workforce initiatives.
“This multi-year strategy includes dedicated investments to attract and hire the most qualified employees, including developing a diverse and competent workforce, improving federal hiring processing and identifying human capital needs of the federal workforce,” the committee stated.
According to the committee, the funding will remove certain barriers to federal employment and delays in the hiring process. The aim is to achieve these upgrades through modernizing information technology, creating more telework guidance, and also to make programs that support reentry to the civil service for individuals who had previously left a federal position.
The bill is set to remove a ban on abortion services under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. This has been a point of contention for several House Republicans, who have voiced their concerns.
White house interns would also benefit from the bill. The Executive Office of the President would receive $4.5 million for interns. That comes after the Biden administration announced in June that he would be paying White house interns.
The OMB would receive $12 million above its current amount for 2022, whereas the Office of the National Cyber Director would receive $22 million in funding.
$100 million would go to fund electric vehicles in an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change. The agency is set to get another $100 million for the Technology Modernization Fund.
Like last year, the bill funds GSA with $10.5 billion for the Federal Buildings Fund. This includes $380 million for the Department of Homeland Security headquarters consolidation at St. Elizabeths and $500 million for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.
The National Archives and Records Administration would receive $2 million more than the President’s request, totaling $452 million. This is said to support more effective access to records documenting underserved and underrepresented communities within the federal workforce.
Also worthy of mention is also that the bill would mandate OMB to make its appropriations publicly available in a timely manner. This provision will implement a permanent, more transparent version of apportionment of appropriations.
Lastly, the new provision seeks to make a commission to suggest name changes or the actual removal of federal property that is “inconsistent with the values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” the committee wrote.
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