Military service-members and their families are reportedly disappointed by the prospect of an incredibly low pay increase, but the decisive election victory of GOP President-elect Donald Trump may inspire Congress to press forward with its plan for a raise.
President Barack Obama’s planned raise is just 1.6 percent effective Jan. 1, which is 0.5 percent lower than the figure in the private sector, despite the fact that military wages are supposed to track with the civilian sector.
Since 2011, military pay increases have been held under 2 percent.
Congress is divided over adding $18 billion extra to the defense budget to halt declining military readiness in its tracks, a divide not helped by the fact that Obama threatens a veto if such a proposal crosses his desk. In other words, the House Committee on Armed Services, a proponent of a larger troop pay raise, can’t seem reach consensus concerning the companion legislation in the Senate.
And yet, now that Trump has exceeded all electoral expectations with his win Tuesday evening, Congress may be ready to drop internal squabbling surrounding funding. Notably, also on election night, Republicans managed to retain control of the House and Senate.
“They thought they might lose the Senate and they might as well get the best [budget] deal they could … now I think there is a feeling they could push much harder. I expect them to be more aggressive than they would have been otherwise,” Mark Cancian, senior adviser for the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Military.com.
Earlier this year in June, the Senate rejected GOP Arizona Sen. John McCain’s defense funding plan, with Democrats complaining that not enough funds were being allocated to fighting opioid addiction and the Zika virus.
Following the election Tuesday, the National Military Family Association wrote a letter to Trump, urging him to take seriously the problem of troop underpayment.
“If a new administration would say, ‘We are going to find a way in our budget to give you the full increase that is in law,’ that would be a huge message,” said executive director Joyce Wessel-Raezer, according to Military.com.
This coming Monday, both the House and Senate committees will resume defense bill negotiations.
And given a Trump victory, the result may be much closer to House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry’s proposal of a 2.1 percent pay increase for troops.
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