Obama to raise government pay

President Obama plans to use emergency powers to give government workers a 1 percent pay raise beginning next year, he said in a letter to congressional leaders on Friday.

"Civilian federal employees have already made significant sacrifices as a result of a three-year pay freeze that ended in January 2014 with the implementation of a 1 percent pay increase — an amount lower than the private sector pay increases and statutory formula for adjustments," Obama said.

Obama said he was able to hike pay through a law authorizing him to increase wages because of "national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare."

The pay hike will also apply to military workers, the president said in a separate letter to Speaker John Bohner (R-Ohio). 

"I am strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our Nation over the past decade of war," Obama said.

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In some previous years, appropriations bills had precluded the president from granting federal workers a pay increase, effectively freezing federal salaries. But this year, lawmakers opted to leave the decision up to President Obama.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat whose Northern Virginia district is home to many federal workers, has proposed legislation that would increase federal pay by 3.3. percent, although the bill stalled in Congress.

Earlier this month, the American Federation of Government Employees, a union for federal workers, complained that the then-hypothetical increase was too small.

"For three of the past four years, Congress denied us a cost-of-living increase," the group said in a post to its website. "This year, we received a whopping 1 percent across-the-board raise – and we’re likely to see the same paltry increase next year as well."  

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