Federal workers’ pay has been frozen for three years, but in President Obama’s budget proposal for next year, he included a 1 percent raise that would occur by default if Congress didn’t pass legislation mandating other numbers. The Senate deal that was passed to fund the government and re-open it on Wednesday evening doesn’t have any language about federal workers’ pay, so if it goes through as-is the modest raise would occur. The bill “would permit the President to implement his plan for a 1 percent pay raise in January, 2014,” according to a joint statement from Democratic Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
If nothing changes, a presidential order would be needed in December to finalize the increase. It would show up in the first full pay period in January. Congress did include a freeze on their own pay in the funding measure.
There are still a few things that could block the raise for federal workers. House Republicans, who have voted to maintain the pay freeze, could introduce separate legislation to halt it, although the Huffington Post reports that such a move looks unlikely. Some agencies may also not have enough money to give workers a raise depending on next year’s budget and whether the conference mandated by the recent deal ends sequestration.
Before and during the shutdown, federal workers told ThinkProgress that the pay freeze, coupled with furlough days brought about by sequestration, had eaten into their savings, making it harder to get by during the shutdown. Many of those workers now say they are living paycheck to paycheck.