McCain Amendment Boosts Pay

May 27, 2016

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) submitted an amendment to the defense bill to give servicemembers the full 2.1 percent pay raise.

The defense bill being debated in the full Senate currently proposes a 1.6 percent pay raise cap as requested by the administration.

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 all-volunteer force.

Although this law is still in effect, lawmakers have been capping active duty pay for the last several years. And, if Congress passes the DoD's proposed 0.5 percent reduction in pay, the pay gap between the military and the private sector would expand to 3.1 percent.

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When military pay raises started being capped in past times of budget constraints, they continued until retention and readiness suffered. This unwise process generated retention crises in the 1970s and the 1990s.

After just four years of pay caps, servicemembers stand to lose several thousand dollars.

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In a statement regarding his amendment, McCain said, “We ask a lot of our men and women in uniform, and they never let us down. We must not let them down.”

MOAA appreciates Sen. McCain's acknowledgement of the importance of a full pay raise. We urge the Senate to adopt this provision in the defense bill.


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