Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced plans for the Senate to consider and vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep FDA and other agencies open through Friday, February 8.
The funding measure released does not contain language to override the President’s planned pay freeze, meaning that there would be no increase to General Schedule (GS) salaries in early January.
In order for federal employees covered by the GS pay system to receive an across-the-board adjustment, as well as locality pay rate increases, either the President or Congress must act to provide these annual increases.
Earlier this year, and later formalized at the end of August, the President sought a pay freeze for employees for January 2019. In June, the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, passed NTEU-supported language to provide a 1.9 percent average pay raise. In recent months and as late as yesterday, NTEU has urged legislators to include this pay raise amount in final end-of-year funding measures including in a short-term CR.
The CR headed to the Senate floor also does not contain any provisions for any type of funding increases or flexibilities for the FDA, as it is a narrowly-crafted or so-called ‘clean’ measure.
We are pleased that a partial shutdown during the holiday season would be averted under this CR for FDA, which threatens employee pay checks, leave plans, and work schedules. However, we are deeply disappointed in the lack of a pay raise and call on Congress to insert this language this year or early next year in the form of a retroactive pay increase once the incoming 116th Congress grapples with longer-term funding.
As you know, the current CR (P.L. 11-298) keeping many federal agencies open expires Friday night. This CR is keeping the following NTEU-represented agencies operating: IRS and other Department of Treasury Offices and Bureaus, CBP and FLETC, CFTC, EPA, FCC, FDA (portions), FEC, NPS, PTO, SEC, and USDA. FDA and other agencies have multiple funding sources—appropriations, fees, trust and working capital funds—so each agency can have employees and programs covered under different funding sources and laws, and some agencies can maintain some or all of their operations from monies that have been collected prior to the lapse, leading to disparate closures and operations across and within agencies.
I will keep you updated on Senate floor developments, and subsequent House action.