The House passed the fiscal 2005 Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act Wednesday, bringing federal workers one step closer to receiving a 3.5 percent pay raise next year.
President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal included a 3.5 percent raise for military personnel and a 1.5 percent raise for federal civilian workers. A bloc of Republican lawmakers in the House backed the White House approach amid contentious debate with supporters of pay parity.
After months of uncertainty, Wednesday's House approval puts all federal employees on track to receive an average 3.5 percent raise in 2005. Congress has repeatedly overruled the White House and granted civil service workers a larger raise than the one recommended in the president's annual budget proposal.
Senior lawmakers from both parties backed the pay parity language in the spending bill, including Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Opponents of parity have argued that military personnel deserve larger raises because of ongoing military engagements abroad. Hoyer rejected that theory and said federal civilian workers deserve equal recognition.
"I was very pleased that the president proposed a fair pay adjustment for our deserving troops," Hoyer said in a press release. "But it is important that we also support the 1.8 million federal employees with a fair pay adjustment. Many civilian federal employees, such as CIA agents, federal air marshals and Department of Defense civilian employees, work side by side with the military to protect our nation at home and abroad."
Davis also praised civilian federal workers and acknowledged the work that was needed to push the language through the House.
"I want to thank Congressmen Frank Wolf, R-Va.; Steny Hoyer, and Jim Moran, D-Va., for their help through the appropriations process to ensure the long tradition of pay parity remains a reality," Davis said.
The parity language must now make it through a conference committee with Senate lawmakers before it can be sent to President Bush to become law. A Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved the 3.5 percent raise earlier this month.