A last-minute bid by House Republicans to dramatically boost next year’s planned military pay raise to 4 percent and add nearly $1 billion in military personnel spending failed amid partisan fighting over the annual defense authorization bill.
The White House and Pentagon leaders have pushed for a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops next year, the largest for the armed services in a decade. Both House and Senate lawmakers have already backed that figure.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly cited the 3.1 percent increase as evidence of his administration’s commitment to taking care of servicemembers. The 3.1 percent figure matches the long-established federal formula for keeping military pay in line with the gradual increase in private sector wages.
But on Friday, ahead of his chamber’s final vote on the annual defense authorization bill, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, pushed for an even larger raise “to help with recruitment and send a message to our troops that we value them.”
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind. and an Army veteran, said opposition to the 4-percent plan amounted to discounting the service and sacrifices of troops.
“Will my colleagues on the other side of the aisle really vote against a well-earned pay raise for our troops?” he said. “Our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, our Marines, they deserve better.”
But Democratic leadership blasted the move as little more than political gamesmanship by Republicans worried they could be accused of not supporting military members and families when they voted against the 3.1 percent raise in the full authorization bill.
Sign up for the Pay and Benefits Report Stay up-to-date on changing military benefits and pay
Enter a valid email address (please select a country) United States United Kingdom Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Democratic Republic of The Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
Thanks for signing up!
By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.
“This body has raised pay for our troops every single year and, we have the largest pay raise in 10 years in this bill for our troops,” said armed services committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash.
“It’s easy to say, well, I’m going to vote no and therefore it’s partisan. There’s no good reason for it. This should be a bipartisan bill. It supports our troops, it supports our national security.”
Democrats also noted that Republicans didn’t push for the larger pay raise until the last moment before bill passage, after several months of bipartisan negotiations over the measure.
But Thornberry said the additional pay raise, along with restoring other personnel and readiness funding cut by Democrats from the White House’s budget request, would have made the overall defense budget bill more palatable to Republican members worried it falls short of military needs.
No Republicans voted for the final $733 billion authorization bill, even though the measure typically draws bipartisan support. With the House authorization bill passage on Friday, that 3.1 percent pay raise mark is nearly guaranteed to become law next year.
For junior enlisted troops, a 3.1 percent pay raise means about $815 more a year in pay. For senior enlisted and junior officers, the hike equals about $1,500 more. An O-4 with 12 years service would see more than $2,800 extra next year under the increase.