The Trump Administration has expressed its support for a pay freeze for civilian Federal employees – a step back from the one percent pay raise that the White House proposed in its initial budget, and a move that has ramifications for budget negotiations between the House and the Senate.

The White House initially proposed a one percent pay raise for civilian employees in February, and the House supported the measure in July, but the Senate budget released in November included a pay freeze for civilian feds, leading into ongoing budget negotiations.

However, the administration notes the COVID-related change in conditions has changed its thinking from February in a November 30 letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

“In the context of budgetary constraints and the recent, pandemic-related impacts on non-Federal labor markets, the Administration supports the policy in the bill to maintain for 2021 the current level of Federal civilian employee pay,” the administration wrote.

The support for a pay freeze will likely come into play when the House and the Senate meet to work out the differences in their funding bills. With many budget aspects to negotiate, White House backing will likely give the Senate more power to use Federal pay as a bargaining tool.

The pay freeze is one of the few areas in the letter where the Trump Administration does not stand by its proposed budget. For other Federal IT-related provisions, the White House expresses its disappointment that the Senate only provided $25 million for the Technology Modernization Fund, expresses disappointment at the Senate’s restrictions on the NewPay payroll modernization effort, and thanks the Senate for fully funding artificial intelligence research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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MeriTalk Staff