Federal Judges to Get COLA
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Chief Justice John RobertsThe US House of Representatives voted this week for a $410 billion spending plan to keep the federal government running through September. The plan includes a cost-of-living adjustment for the federal judiciary for the 2009 calendar year.

According to the Administrative Office of the US Courts, the proposal would give judges a 2.8% pay increase retroactive to January.

The pay bump would end judges’ status as the only federal employees who did not get a cost-of-living adjustment this year. They have gone without such an increase in seven of the last 14 years, and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has made the issue a priority.


The spending plan now heads to the Senate, which has been less receptive to arguments for higher judicial pay and could amend the plan. In October, senators removed plans for the judiciary’s 2009 cost-of-living adjustment from auto-bailout legislation passed by the House.

House members voted in the same legislation to turn down their own cost-of-living adjustment scheduled for January 2010. Because judicial pay is linked to congressional pay, the chances for a judicial adjustment in 2010 are looking pretty low.

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the federal government’s 2010 fiscal year, which the White House released this morning, does not include a cost-of-living adjustment or pay raise for the federal judiciary.

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