House Approves 1 Percent Pay Raise for Troops

Soldiers patrol in the mountains near Sar Howza, Afghanistan in 2009. Soldiers patrol in the mountains near Sar Howza, Afghanistan in 2009. Defense Department file photo

The House on Thursday approved legislation that ensures troops will receive a 1 percent pay raise in 2014 and authorizes a range of other military compensation.

The fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act does not contain specific language increasing basic pay for military members next year, which means President Obama’s recommendation of a 1 percent bump will take effect. The bill passed by a vote of 350-69.

“The NDAA supports current law, which is intended to ensure pay for our troops keeps pace with the civilian sector, but provides the president with latitude to make exceptions by executive order,” stated a Dec. 9 bill summary from the House Armed Services Committee. “The NDAA neither affirms nor rejects the president’s decision.” Since Congress did not offer an alternative, or prohibit an across-the-board raise, the president’s recommendation will take effect.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act next week before it adjourns on Dec. 20 so President Obama can sign the bill into law before Jan. 1. The House actually passed its initial version of the bill, which included a 1.8 percent pay boost for troops, in June. But the Senate bill, which included a 1 percent pay raise for service members, recently stalled because of a stalemate over amendments.

With the Defense Department’s authority to offer different types of incentive pay and bonuses to current and prospective military members set to expire on Dec. 31, lawmakers scrambled to come up with a plan to fast-track the legislation. The leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services committees last week agreed to pass identical bills authorizing fiscal 2014 funds for the department to expedite the legislative process.

The legislation also extends the department’s authority to provide special pay and bonuses to troops, including housing allowances, combat pay, enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, and incentives for foreign language skills.

The House adjourns for the year on Friday, and is cramming in debate and floor votes on critical legislation before lawmakers flee Washington for the holidays. “I think this has been one of these most challenging years in getting this bill passed,” said Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, during floor remarks on Thursday.

The bill would authorize $552.1 billion in spending for national defense in fiscal 2014, and an additional $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations.

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