House to Vote on 2014 Military Pay Raise

Soldiers conduct a patrol in Ghazni province in 2012. Soldiers conduct a patrol in Ghazni province in 2012. Defense Department

Military personnel are on track to receive a 1.8 percent pay raise next year under legislation moving swiftly through the House.

The House will vote Friday on the bill authorizing funds for the Defense Department in fiscal 2014, including a pay boost for service members. The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved its Defense spending bill, which also recommends a 1.8 percent pay increase for military personnel.

The appropriations legislation does not provide money for a civilian pay raise in 2014.

President Obama has recommended a 1 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees and service members in 2014. Civilian employees have been under a pay freeze since 2011, though they are still eligible for bonuses and more money through promotions and within-grade step increases. Military personnel received a 1.7 percent pay boost in 2013.

It’s not a foregone conclusion that service members will receive a 1.8 percent raise next year. The Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee marked up its version of the defense authorization bill on Tuesday with a 1 percent pay raise for service members in 2014. If that figure remains intact, then House and Senate lawmakers will have to reach consensus during conference committee on how much of a raise to give members of the military in 2014.

There’s also uncertainty with respect to a 2014 pay raise for civilian employees. In addition to the Defense spending bill, the House Appropriations Committee also passed legislation funding the Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments that does not provide money for a civilian pay raise. But if there is not specific legislative language affecting federal salaries in any bills -- either stand-alone or omnibus legislation -- then the president has the authority to determine a pay raise based on the Employment Cost Index. Of course, if Congress doesn’t appropriate funds for a pay raise, it’s unclear where the president would find the money for an increase, effectively continuing the current freeze.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the Defense authorization bill that would have given military personnel a 2 percent pay raise next year. The House began consideration of 172 amendments to the Defense authorization bill Thursday afternoon.

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