Pay parity amendment set for this week

A senior Democratic lawmaker will introduce an amendment later this week to grant federal civilian employees the same 3.5 percent pay raise that military personnel will receive in 2005.

The White House and a group of Republican House members are pushing for a 1.5 percent pay raise for civil servants and a 3.5 percent raise for the military. President Bush has said that service members deserve the larger raise because of ongoing military conflicts. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., has said that the government cannot afford the additional $2.2 billion that equal pay raises would cost.

House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is planning to introduce the pay parity amendment when the House Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Subcommittee marks up its spending bill, which is expected to happen on Friday, according to a congressional aide.

In March, the House overwhelmingly endorsed pay parity in a nonbinding "sense of Congress" resolution. Officials believe that the resolution, sponsored by House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., will guide future dialogue on the pay parity issue.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers last week sent letters to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., and ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., urging support for the amendment. The letters, which prominently mentioned the March pay parity vote, were first reported by The Washington Post.

"In nearly every year over the last two decades, the annual pay adjustments have been identical. We firmly believe it is imperative to continue this tradition in the coming fiscal year, due to the essential service military and civilian employees provide to our nation," said the letter, which was signed by Davis; Hoyer; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Albert Wynn, D-Md.; Jim Moran, D-Va.; Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Frank Wolf, R-Va.

"As we fight the war on terrorism at home and abroad," the letter added, "both the armed services and the federal civilian workforce are integral to fulfilling the role of government for the American people, and both must be compensated accordingly."