Panel Approves 1 Percent Pay Hike for Troops and Civilians

A U.S. Army soldier participates in a static loading exercise at Camp Ramadi, Iraq. Senate appropriators approved a 1 percent pay hike for service members. A U.S. Army soldier participates in a static loading exercise at Camp Ramadi, Iraq. Senate appropriators approved a 1 percent pay hike for service members. Defense Department

Pay raises for troops and Defense civilians next year remain up in the air because House and Senate lawmakers so far disagree on them.

Senate appropriators on Thursday approved a 1 percent pay hike for service members and the Defense Department’s civilian workforce in the fiscal 2014 Defense spending bill, which now advances to the full Senate.

But the House last week passed its Defense appropriations bill with a 1.8 percent pay raise for troops, and nothing for the department’s civilian workforce, setting up one more conflict between the two chambers.

If the Senate sticks with the 1 percent pay raise for both troops and civilians, then lawmakers will have to reach consensus during conference committee on the final amount to give each group.

“The three million active duty, reserve and civilian employees are the Department of Defense’s most valuable resource,” said the Defense spending bill summary from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

President Obama has recommended a 1 percent pay increase for service members and all federal civilian employees in 2014. Obama has threatened to veto the House spending bill if it reaches him, specifically taking issue with the legislation’s pay provisions and rejection of the administration’s recommended fee increases to TRICARE, the military’s health care system. A statement from the administration “strongly urged” Congress to set the military pay raise at 1 percent.

“Consistent with the views of the uniformed military leadership, the president’s budget requests a 1 percent increase to basic pay, a 4.2 percent increase in the basic allowance for housing, and a 3.4 percent increase in basic allowance for subsistence. This total compensation level recognizes the sacrifices made by the men and women in our armed forces, while adhering to the current budget constraints faced by DoD,” the administration said.

The policy statement also urged Congress to support the 1 percent pay hike for federal civilian employees, because “a permanent pay freeze is neither sustainable nor desirable.”

House and Senate appropriators are in harmony so far with respect to a possible pay raise in 2014 for all civilian employees. The full Senate panel remained silent on a pay boost for feds in its fiscal 2014 Financial Services and General Government spending bill, which it approved last week. Like the House version, the Senate bill leaves the decision to President Obama by omitting language related to an across-the-board raise for government workers. The financial services bill, as lawmakers refer to it, typically is the vehicle for such federal pay provisions.

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