Feb 15, 2019
by Ed Lamb
By signing a collection of seven Fiscal Year 2019 appropriation bills on Feb. 15, 2019, Donald Trump committed to not again shutting down the federal government in order to win money to build new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also approved a 1.9 percent raise for civilian government employees.
Specifically, the spending package calls for a 1.4 percent increase in base pay plus a 0.5 percent increase to locality pay adjustments. As noted on the Federal News Network, this latter provision should be welcome for feds in the just-added locality pay regions of Birmingham, Ala.; Burlington, Vt.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; San Antonio, Texas; and Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Va.
The raise is retroactive to January 1. Back pay for contractors forced to stop working during the 35-day shutdown that started just before Christmas 2018 is not included in the budget deal.
Other aspects of the agreement to keep the federal government operating through September 30 that will affect U.S. government employment and compensation include
- 1.9 percent raises for the vice president and political appointees, whose positions last saw pay rate increases in 2010
- 1.9 percent raises for GS-15 employees
- $40 million for hiring at Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Funds to expand the Secret Service staff to 7,650
- Additional money for Secret Service agent overtime pay
Importantly, across-the-board cuts to agency budgets and large-scale agency reorganizations that Trump and the Office of Management and Budget called for at the start of last summer have been put on hold.
The Hill summarizes that development this way:
Congress rejected deep, draconian cuts that Trump had proposed for nondefense programs he had asked to eliminate or cut.
An overview of the legislative package cites 84 instances were Congress allocated funds above the president’s budget request, for areas such as foreign aid, agricultural research, rural infrastructure, nutritional programs and climate research.