Senate Panel Calls for 1 Percent Troop Pay Raise, Setting Up Conflict With the House

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., leads the Senate Armed Services Committee . Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., leads the Senate Armed Services Committee . Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

A Senate panel approved legislation on Thursday that provides a smaller pay raise for military service members than the one the House agreed to.

The Senate Armed Services Committee reported out its fiscal 2015 Defense authorization bill, which includes a 1 percent pay boost for troops next year – the same amount that President Obama has recommended. Also on Thursday, the House passed its version of the legislation, which tacitly supports a 1.8 percent across-the-board salary hike. The 1.8 percent pay bump for troops is in line with the automatic fiscal 2015 cost-of-living adjustment scheduled for the military; there is not an explicit provision regarding a pay raise in the House legislation, but by staying silent, lawmakers are supporting the amount that would automatically take place under the law.

If the Senate ultimately passes a bill with the 1 percent raise, the two chambers will have to hammer out their differences in conference committee. Military service members received a 1 percent pay boost in 2014.

The Senate Defense authorization bill, like the House-passed version, also calls for a pay freeze for general and flag officers in fiscal 2015, as recommended by the Obama administration. The Senate panel approved other personnel-related White House recommendations, including a provision that results in a smaller increase for troops’ basic housing allowance and higher pharmacy co-pays from 2015 through 2024 for non-active duty TRICARE beneficiaries. The panel, led by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., however, rejected more aggressive White House recommendations related to TRICARE, such as creating enrollment fees for TRICARE-for-Life beneficiaries.  Like their House colleagues, senators on the Armed Services Committee also rejected the administration’s recommendations to cut funding of military commissaries, the heavily-subsidized stores on base where service members and their families buy food and other goods.

Another important provision in the Senate Defense authorization bill would grandfather those who first join the military before Jan. 1, 2016, from the reduced cost-of-living adjustments that apply to military retired pay. The current law grandfathers in those who joined the military before Jan. 1, 2014. Congress in February repealed a provision in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act that cut the pensions of working-age military retirees until they reach the age of 62. The reduced cost-of-living adjustment however, still applies to those who first join the military after Jan. 1, 2014.

The Senate panel in a summary of the legislation made a point of saying that the provisions related to slowing the growth of personnel costs – including the 1 percent pay raise, housing allowance and higher pharmacy co-pays – were “undesirable but necessary to produce a defense budget that provides sufficient funding to address readiness and modernization deficits, authorizes a sufficiently-sized and trained force to meet national defense objectives, and adheres to congressionally-mandated budget levels.”

The bill also urged the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to conduct a survey of active-duty and retired service members about pay and benefits, and includes a provision requiring the Defense secretary to review the effectiveness of the 40-year pay table. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.