President Obama on Friday announced a 1.3 percent pay raise for military members next year, a level that's less than what's specified under the law.
The change to monthly basic pay will take effect Jan. 1.
"This decision is consistent with my fiscal year 2016 Budget and it will not materially affect the Federal Government's ability to attract and retain well-qualified members for the uniformed services," Obama wrote in an Aug. 28 letter to congressional leaders.
The presidential order is consistent with the Pentagon's proposed budget for fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1.
The spending plan called for a pay raise of 1.3 percent rather than the 2.3 percent estimated increase in private sector-wage growth, which military pay is supposed to track by law. The 1.3 percent figure is slightly higher than the 1 percent pay increase that service members have received the past two years.
While Senators on a key defense panel agreed with the administration's military pay proposal, Republicans on the counterpart panel in the House of Representatives supported a higher cost of living adjustment for military members. However, they didn't specify a figure in their draft version of the legislation and effectively left the decision up to Obama.
"I am strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our Nation over the past decade of war," Obama said in his letter.
"As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course," he added. "This effort requires tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints."
Troop advocates have criticized military pay raises that aren't consistent with the law. "Troops deserve the 2.3% pay raise," Joyce Wessel Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, an advocacy group based in Alexandria, Virginia, tweeted in May.
In its budget proposal, the Defense Department proposed limited pay raises for troops over the next five years, even though Congress sets the rate each year as part of the budget process. The spending plan calls for a raise of 1.3 percent in fiscal 2016 and 2017, 1.5 percent in fiscal 2018 and 2019, and 1.8 percent in 2020.