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December 2010

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


No COLA for Congress, Federal Judges or Judiciary Employees

Pub. L. No. 111-165 prohibits a January 2011 pay adjustment for Members of Congress. Under the Ethics Reform Act, federal judges would have been eligible to receive a 0.9% pay adjustment effective January 2011. But Congress did not comply with Section 140 of Pub. L. No. 97-92, which provides that Congress must affirmatively authorize a pay adjustment for judges. In contrast, Members of Congress automatically receive a pay adjustment, unless Congress acts to deny itself one.

Congress generally has denied judges their pay adjustments when Congress does not take one. This is the third time in the last five years that Congress has denied judges an annual pay adjustment.

The President has proposed a pay freeze for General Schedule federal employees for 2011 and 2012. Pay for Judiciary employees also would be frozen because, by law, adjustments to the Judiciary pay schedules may not exceed any adjustments made to the General Schedule. Congress must approve the President’s proposal.

In addition, the President has announced that locality pay for Executive Branch employees will be frozen in 2011. The Judiciary follows Executive Branch adjustments on locality pay for its own employees. Congress’ approval is not needed to have the locality pay freeze take effect.