America’s troops to get 1.6% wage increase, but critics say the law calls for bigger rise

By on 19/05/2016

A key panel in the U.S. upper house has voted in favour of a 1.6% pay rise for America’s troops.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved the proposals as part of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy goals and spending targets for the next fiscal year.

The panel, headed by senator John McCain, a republican from Arizona, voted 23-3 in favour of the legislation, which would authorise $602bn in funding for the defence department and national security programmes at the energy department.

The pay rise is less than the 2.1% proposed by the armed services committee in America’s lower house – the House of Representatives.

The panel, chaired by representative William “Mac” Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, said in a statement last week that his proposal would give America’s troops “the full pay raise to which they are entitled under the law.”

Though the increase is higher than the 1.3% raise troops received this year and the 1% they got the previous two years, it’s lower than the 2.1% raise called for under existing law to match private-sector wage growth, according to military and veteran membership organisation military.com.

According to the Pentagon’s own budget documents, the law calls for a military pay raise to equal the annual increase in the wages and salaries of private industry employees as measured by the Employment Cost Index, or ECI, which is calculated by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition to the 1.6% “across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services”, the NDAA would also authorise $134bn for military personnel, including costs of pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits, and permanent change of station moves; $33.5bn for the defence health programme; and re-authorise more than 30 types of bonuses and special pays aimed at encouraging enlistment, re-enlistment, and continued service by active-duty and reserve component military personnel.

“This is a reform bill,” McCain said in a statement. “The NDAA contains the most sweeping reforms of the organisation of the Department of Defense in a generation.

“It modernises the military health system to provide beneficiaries with higher quality care, better access to care, and a better experience of care.”

 

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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