By Debbie Gregory.
There’s good news for military families who may have worried about potential paycheck problems due to the budget gridlock on Capitol Hill.
On Aug. 28, President Obama announced that he is moving forward with a plan to provide a pay raise for all service members, effective January 1st .
The bad news is that raise is only 1.3 percent.
President Obama’s cap of the 2016 military pay raise puts it at a level below the unstated preference of House members. Lawmakers could override the president’s order, but that would require negotiators to insert completely new pay language into the compromise bill. It is unikely that both houses of Congress will push the 2.3 percent raise per the Employment Cost Index figure otherwise mandated by Title 37 of the U.S. Code.
“As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare … we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course,” he wrote. “This effort requires tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints.”
House lawmakers have expressed support for a 2.3 percent raise next year in some defense budget legislation, but decided against including that specific number in their version of the annual defense authorization bill. Senators went with the 1.3 percent mark in their draft version of that military policy legislation.
The two sides are negotiating a final compromise bill that they hope to pass in coming weeks, but are not likely at this point to force a 2.3 percent pay raise by dramatically changing the language in their respective draft bills.
House negotiators have indicated that they would be willing to allow modest increases in health care fees in the final draft of the bill. Senators also are pushing for trims in the annual growth of the Basic Allowance for Housing. Outside advocates have decried those moves as putting increased pressure on the personal finances of troops and their families, and widening the pay gap between service members and their civilian counterparts.