Lawmakers Face Uphill Battle on Pay Raise

June 5, 2015

House lawmakers approved a 2.3 percent active duty pay raise. 

On June 2, the House Appropriations Committee approved funding for the FY16 defense bill. Included in the bill was support for a fully funded active duty pay raise and funding to maintain 100 percent of troop housing costs through housing allowances. 

On passage of the bill, Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said, "I am proud that we have kept faith with the brave men and women, and their families, who selflessly serve our country." 

But they'll face an uphill battle getting the provision signed into law. 

In its version of the annual defense bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved the administration's proposal to cap military pay at 1.3 percent. 

For the last two years, the Senate and the administration have capped pay raises.  

In 2003, Congress tied military pay increases to the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to keep military pay competitive with the private sector. Congress recognized that annually raising active duty pay at the same pace as the private sector is essential to sustaining a quality force. Under this law, servicemembers should receive a 2.3 percent pay raise. 

This erosion of pay puts servicemembers at a disadvantage to their private sector peers.  

"A third straight year of pay caps sends the wrong message to troops," said MOAA's Deputy Director of Government Relations, Col. Mike Barron, USA (Ret.). "Pay comparability can't work unless it's sustained through both good and bad times."  

Troops burdened by over a decade of war have had their last four raises average less than 1.4 percent. The last two years of pay raises were the lowest in 50 years. 

"House lawmakers have done the right thing with supporting the 2.3 percent pay raise. It's time for the Senate to do the same," said Barron. 

Act now to send your senators an MOAA-suggested message asking them to support a full ray raise when the defense bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote.