Lawmaker: Congress Must Fight for Higher Troop Pay Raise

A 1.6-percent pay raise for military members proposed as part of the president's fiscal 2017 budget is "ridiculous," says one lawmaker who oversees the House subcommittee responsible for personnel issues, including pay.

"I think it's ridiculous that we're not giving the full pay raise as calculated by law to our men and women in uniform, especially during a time that the Department of Defense is, in my opinion, nickel and diming troops in every area," said Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada.

By law troops are to receive a pay raise within 0.5 percent of the Employment Cost Index, which tracks civilian labor costs. The index for 2017 is projected to be 2.1 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Although the proposed 1.6 percent falls within the required window, Heck said he plans to seek a larger raise.

"I want to make sure that I'm extremely vocal about the fact that we need to fight for the full pay raise this year. I think there will be folks that share that view," he said. "At this critical time where service members and their families are seeing significant changes or threats of significant changes to the pay and benefits structure, the least we can do is ensure they get a full pay raise."

If passed into law, the 1.6 percent pay raise will mark the fourth year troop pay has not kept pace with the private sector. The pay proposal is part of a larger $582.7 billion Pentagon budget proposal for fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1, which includes more funding to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Russia and China. The spending plans also calls for funding to develop an "arsenal plane" and swarming "microdrones" while keeping the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft in the inventory.

Heck said he is also seeking to change the pricing structure at military commissaries, a move that could result in price increases. Read more about that here.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @amybushatz.

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