House approves 1.6 percent pay raise for service members

The House on Friday approved a 1.6 percent pay raise for military personnel next year.

The chamber passed the fiscal 2012 defense spending bill (H.R. 2219), which included the pay provision, by a vote of 336-87. President Obama recommended a 1.6 percent boost for service members in his fiscal 2012 budget proposal released in February. The $649 billion defense appropriations package is $17 billion more than last year's funding level and $9 billion less than Obama's request. Of the total, the bill provides $119 billion in emergency spending for the war on terror.

All other federal employees are subject to a two-year pay freeze through 2012. Service members received a 1.9 percent pay boost for fiscal 2011.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said the legislation "reflects hard decisions to cut spending." In a statement Rogers said, "In this time of financial crisis, no one should be exempt from tightening their fiscal belts -- yet with our national defense we must do so very carefully, making sure to not impact the warfighter or their mission."

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently marked up legislation that includes a 1.6 percent pay raise for military personnel in fiscal 2012.

In March, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report that said if the government capped the basic pay increase for service members from 2012 to 2015 and set raises at 0.5 percentage points below the increase in the Employment Cost Index, it would save about $6 billion between 2012 and 2016, and $17 billion between 2012 and 2021. Currently, military salaries must be increased annually at a rate equal to the change in the ECI for private sector wages.

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