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August 13, 2001
Raises Likely for Military, Federal Workers
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t before adjourning for vacation this month, a key Senate committee endorsed a 4.6 percent pay raise for civil-service employees in 2002.

The Washington Post reports that lawmakers also appear likely to provide substantial pay raises for the military, a priority of President Bush's.

And disabled veterans may see changes in a controversial law that's seen as unfairly harming their benefits.

The civil-service raise, part of a spending bill for the Treasury Department, Postal Service, and other agencies, should come up for a vote by the full Senate in September, according to the Post. The House approved it last month.

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee recommended that enlisted military personnel receive at least a 6 percent raise and that military officers receive at least a 5 percent raise. The committee said it would propose additional pay increases of as much as 10 percent for mid-grade and senior noncommissioned officers and mid-grade commissioned officers.

Overall, the raise would be the largest for the armed forces since 1982, according to the panel.

The Post observes that despite efforts by Washington-area lawmakers to establish "pay parity" for civil-service employees, it seems unlikely that that group's raises will keep pace with military raises next year.

The House Armed Services Committee also took an important step toward changing a controversial benefits law that many veterans believe treats them unfairly, according to the Post.

The panel recommended that disabled military retirees receive full military retirement pay and their disability compensation.

Under current law, retirement pay of military retirees with service-related disabilities is reduced to offset disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the committee said veterans are entitled to both payments because their pensions were earned through long years of service and their disability pay is compensation for lost earning potential.

The dual payments will take effect if legislation is enacted to cover the additional costs, projected to run into the millions of dollars.

Finally, before departing, Congress also approved legislation that would raise the retirement age for federal firefighters in hopes of keeping experienced hands on duty longer.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would raise the retirement age for federal firefighters from 55 to 57, bringing them in line with retirement rules for federal law enforcement officers.

To view the Washington Post story, click here.

KF 8-10-01
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