WASHINGTON — — President Barack Obama on Friday proposed a 1 percent raise for civilian federal employees, a move that would end the pay freeze that has been in place for three years as policymakers sought to reduce budget deficits.
In a letter to congressional leaders sent at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, the president wrote that "federal employees have already made significant sacrifices." He also proposed a 1 percent raise for members of the military.
As in the past, pay and benefits for federal employees are ultimately expected to be part of the negotiations on legislation to fund the government later this fall. Congress must approve a spending bill by the end of September or risk a government shutdown.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have not included money for a civilian pay raise in their spending proposals. The House did approve a spending bill this summer that included a 1.8 percent raise for service members.
Maryland is home to more than 300,000 federal employees — about one-tenth of the state's workforce — according to the U.S. Census.
"Although the one percent is a pitiful amount that doesn't begin to compensate for the furloughs and three years of frozen pay, it is a welcome development," American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.
"To call this raise inadequate is an understatement but it is good news all the same," he said.
In addition to the pay freeze and furloughs implemented under the federal budget cuts known as sequestration, lawmakers required new federal employees to contribute more to their retirement as part of an agreement last year to extend a payroll tax break.
If a pay increase materialized, it would take effect in January.