President Obama notified Congress this week that he has determined federal civilian employees should receive a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2017. This is the same civilian and military pay raises the president included in the FY2017 federal budget request in February.
Each year the president is required under Title 5 U.S.C., sections 5303(b) and 5304a, to present an alternative pay plan for across-the-board pay and locality pay adjustments. Unless Congress acts the president’s alternative proposal automatically will go into effect in January 2017.
The 1.6 percent pay raise is a combination of a 1.0 percent across-the-board raise announced in the letter and an increase in locality pay the president said he will announce by November 30, 2016. “The alternative plan for locality payments will be limited so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and the locality pay increases will be 1.6 percent of the basic payroll,” the president said in his letter.
In a separate letter to Congress, the president determined that members of the uniformed services should also receive a 1.6 percent pay raise in 2017. The president proposed a 1.6 percent military pay raise in his FY2017 budget request. The president acknowledged the contributions made by military personnel “over more than a decade of war,” but said the need to “keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course…requires tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints.”
To date, Congress has expressed general support for a 1.6 percent civilian pay raise. The House-passed FY2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill was silent on the pay raise, which indicates passive support for the president’s 1.6 percent pay raise proposal in that it does not reject it. The Senate has not completed action on its version of the bill.
The 2017 military pay raise will be at least 1.6 percent as proposed by the president. The House-passed FY2017 DoD Appropriations bill funds a 2.1 percent military pay raise that is authorized in the House-passed FY2017 Defense Authorization bill. However, the Senate-passed Defense Authorization bill would approve the president’s 1.6 percent military pay raise request and the Senate Appropriations Committee supports the president’s military pay raise proposal in its bill. The full Senate has not yet acted on the committee-recommended bill. A House-Senate conference on the bill will determine Congress’s final, position on the military pay raise.