Panel advances military pay raise

Pier Paolo Cito/AP

A House panel Thursday approved legislation that gives military personnel a 1.7 percent pay raise in fiscal 2013 and provides more money for health and wellness programs for service members and their families.

The Appropriations Committee advanced by voice vote a bill funding the Defense Department in fiscal 2013. It provides $519.2 billion in non-war funding, which is about $1 billion more than current spending levels, and more than $3 billion above President Obama’s budget request, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The 1.7 percent pay raise for service members is in line with pending Defense authorization legislation that the House plans to vote on Friday. Obama also requested a 1.7 percent boost in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal.

The appropriations bill includes $128.5 billion for more than 1 million active-duty troops and more than 800,000 reservists. The funding is $2.6 billion less than fiscal 2012 levels because of the reduction in troop totals, according to a press release from the committee’s majority staff.

In addition, lawmakers appropriated $35.1 billion for Defense health and family programs, $334 million more than fiscal 2012 and $348 million above the administration’s request. That total includes $245 million for medical facility and equipment upgrades, $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research and $20 million for suicide prevention outreach programs. The bill also provides $2.3 billion for family support and advocacy programs.

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