Spending deal would kill Donald Trump’s federal pay freeze

Sen. Chris Van Hollen among lawmakers touting a cost-of-living adjustment

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., is highlighting language in the spending deal that gives a cost-of-living adjustment to federal workers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The bipartisan spending agreement finalized Wednesday night and set for votes Thursday includes language ending President Donald Trump’s pay freeze for federal workers.

Appropriators had long planned to give a cost-of-living adjustment to civilian federal employees for 2019, notwithstanding Trump, and the agreement has followed through on that.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat and member of the Appropriations Committee who counts many of the D.C.-area federal workforce among his constituents, was among the lawmakers specifically praising that provision.

“It says to our federal employees — including the over 800,000 who were forced to work without pay or furloughed completely for more than a month — that we respect their work,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “This legislation rejects the Trump pay freeze and instead gives civil servants a modest cost of living increase in their paycheck.”

“And while I’m disappointed that it doesn’t include back pay for our federal contract workers, I’m going to keep fighting to make them whole,” Van Hollen said.

Specifically, the conference report would provide a 1.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment for federal employees, and if it becomes law it would be applied retroactively to January 1. So federal workers could see an unexpected boost in one of their upcoming paychecks.

As became clear Wednesday evening, the Trump administration would not allow for a provision to provide back pay for contract workers who were furloughed or otherwise not paid during the record partial government shutdown that ran more than a month earlier this year.

The Senate is expected to vote to adopt the conference report Thursday afternoon, with the House following Thursday night. Trump had yet to make a final decision about whether to sign the measure, as of Thursday morning.

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