WASHINGTON — As military advocates push for a bigger pay raise for troops next year, federal workers are lobbying Congress to ensure they get at least as much as the armed forces.

Federal civilian pay raises have matched military paycheck increases for the last five years, but only after lawmakers increased the White House’s budget proposals.

Recently President Bush’s federal pay proposals have lagged at least 0.5 percent below military raises, and in 2005 the White House proposed only a 1.5 percent government worker raise to accompany a 3.5 percent military hike.

This year Bush proposed a 3.4 percent pay raise for all troops, but only a 2.9 percent increase for federal employees. Both military support organizations and several federal workers unions are pushing for a 3.9 percent raise or higher for both groups.

“We fully recognize that active-duty troops are asked to do more than civilian workers,” said Jackie Simon, public policy director for the American Federation of Government Employees. “That said, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are deployed … and work side-by-side with the military.”

Simon said a large percentage of federal workers are veterans and reservists, and the union is careful not to equate their members’ civilian work with the military’s duties.

“But we’re only talking about parity in the pay raise, not other compensation like housing that (troops) rightly deserve,” she said. “We want cohesiveness and recognition of the work that they do with each other.”

In a statement earlier this month, officials at the National Treasury Employees Union called pay parity “an accurate reflection of the equally valuable contributions that all federal employees make.”

The Association of the United States Army, which lobbies Congress on behalf of soldiers, veterans and department civilians, has made equal pay raises a legislative priority as well, seeing a disparity between all DOD employees and the civilian work force.

Earlier this month, the House Budget committee approved its fiscal 2009 budget proposal, which included the president’s pay raise for troops but also language supporting equal compensation for federal workers.

The full House is expected to vote on the pay raises and its budget plan in May, with Senate debate and votes in the following months.

Simon said that even without guaranteed parity in military and federal pay, she expects Congress to continue its tradition of matching the two pay raises.

“Many of the lawmakers have both military and federal employees in their districts, and they know how much they work together,” she said.

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