By Melissa Harris
A key House committee reversed President Bush's fifth attempt to give unequal raises to military and civilian employees in a voice vote this week - a decision that the rest of Congress and the president likely will uphold.
Final passage would give civilian federal workers and military personnel a 3.1 percent raise.
The issue is a perennial one for advocates of lean government, who see the across-the-board raises as bloating the federal budget during a time of growing deficits and war. Congress, however, hasn't agreed since 1986, the last year civilians earned smaller raises than the military, according to the 2005 Federal Employees Almanac.
"Military personnel and federal civilian employees work side by side and for the same employer," said Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, who introduced the pay parity amendment, in a statement.
This could, however, be the last year for an across-the-board anything. The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to begin its new pay-for-performance wage system Aug. 1, if the courts allow it.