By Debbie Gregory.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act, members of the US Military are set to receive a 1% pay raise in January. This raise has been reduced from the 1.7% that they received in January, 2013. Last June, Congress approved 1.8% military pay increase in its version of the proposed 2014 Defense Authorization Bill; an increase that would be comparable to civilian pay increases. At this point, only a last-ditch effort by Congress would give military service members anything more than a 1% across-the-board pay increase that would take effect on January 1st .
The President and White House budget officials have objected to a 1.8% pay increase, stating that the higher pay increase would add $600 million to the 2014 defense budget. The administration believes that a budget with the higher pay increase would eventually force the military into deeper reductions in personnel levels, and create a negative impact on the military’s readiness and modernization programs.
In an executive order, President Obama said that he is, “strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our nation over the past decade of war.”
But, the president also commented on how the U.S. is recovering from a serious economic crisis, which requires actions that enable the country to stay “on a sustainable fiscal course.”
If not offset by cuts in other defense programs, a 1.8% military pay increase would put defense budget spending on an unsustainable course.
The Senate’s debate on the defense policy bill has been delayed by the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis. The Senate has not yet approved its version of the annual defense policy bill, but the Senate Armed Services Committee has already voiced its approval of a 1% increase. And it appears unlikely that the Senate would vote to increase the 1% raise.
Congress has already endorsed a 1% raise for federal civilian employees. This raise ends a three-year pay freeze for federal workers. It was also a part of the government funding bill that was hastily passed late on October 16th, which ended the government shutdown. The bill also includes funding for pay raises and a clause preventing members of Congress from receiving the pay hike.
A decision will probably not be reached before late December. This would leave very little time before the military pay raise would be scheduled to take effect on January 1st .