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The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on a bill today authorizing funds for the Defense Department, and while it seems military personnel are set to receive a pay raise in 2014, it's unclear whether civilian employees will get the 1 percent increase President Obama recommended earlier this year. Meanwhile, a senator from Virginia has been appointed to the top spot of a transportation subcommittee and lawmakers battled it out last night in the annual congressional baseball game at Nationals Park. David Hawkings, political columnist for Hawkings Here for Roll Call, talks about the latest details.
On the likelihood of either military or civilian employees getting a pay raise: "It looks kind of up in the air to be honest. The rhythm of the pay raise debate for the last few years has been that Congress tends to try and give the military a little bit of a bigger pay increase than their civilian counterparts -- both in the defense department and elsewhere in the government. And in the end, that's the way it turns out. At the moment, the bill in the House today would give people in uniform a 1.8 percent increase. There's another bill that would actually provide the money to match that. So far, no bill has started moving through Congress that would give the civilian employees anything else. The president wants to match them 1 percent. By the end of the year, if there's no money to give them a 1 percent increase, the president has the power to give them at least a cost of living adjustment based on inflation, but he wouldn't have the money to do so. So it's a little bit up in the air."
On Virginia Sen. Mark Warner being appointed chair of the subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, and what kind of influence he will have: "The way the Senate works, transportation policy is kind of split between two committees, and Sen. Warner has now got one of them. He gets to move up because of the death of Frank Lautenberg -- that's what creates this mid-year shuffle. The highway bill has recently been written. It lasts for another couple of years when it's time for a new surface transportation bill. In a couple of years, Sen. Warner will be in the cat bridge seat, and in theory should be able to get some of Virginia and the Washington area's priorities realized. It's too soon to say what they would be and how much money they would spend."
On Democratic and Republican lawmakers facing off on the baseball field: "The Democrats won the most lopsided game in the 52-year history of the game, which is actually called the Roll Call Congressional baseball game. The Democrats won 22 to nothing. The storyline is the story of Cedric Richmond who is a fourth term congressman from New Orleans. He was a former college baseball player for Morehouse."