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UPDATED - House to Vote on 2015 Military Pay and Benefits

DoD Budget Determining the DoD's 2015 Budget

UPDATE: The House Passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act with the 1.8 percent military pay raise intact.. However, the current Senate version does not agree with the House's version on several budget items including the 2015 military pay raise. Read the full story on Military.com. The House is set to vote on the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which could impact military pay and compensation for years to come. Known as the “Chairman’s Mark” the version being considered was passed by the House Armed Services Committee. While there may be changes and amendments added on the floor, it is unlikely that any of the proposed amendments will cover pay and benefit issues. The following are quotes pulled from the official summary of the Chairman’s Mark:
Members in both parties have consistently stated that they are unwilling to make piecemeal compensation reforms, nor are they willing to make reforms until the [Military Compensation Commission] provides its report to the committee. In the FY15 budget request, the President proposed his most sweeping compensation cuts to date, including TRICARE, Housing Allowances, and Commissary benefits. When combined with a reduction in the annual troop pay increase, these cuts result in thousands of dollars of additional out-of-pocket expenses for military families. Chairman McKeon categorically rejects these cuts. He continues to believe military compensation reform should be addressed comprehensively and should be informed by the recommendations of the commission. Reflecting the input of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, the NDAA supports current law, which mandates an automatic 1.8% annual increase in 2015 military pay. The President retains his executive authority to make reductions to this pay rate without congressional authorization. The Chairman’s mark does uphold the President’s request, endorsed by senior military leadership, for a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers for FY15.
The “Chairman’s Mark Summary” can be found online in PDF form. Like last year, Congress is taking a hands-off approach to dealing with the subject of 2015 military pay increases, by leaving the legislation which calls for the automatic pay increase of 1.8 percent, but, not forcing the issue through direct legislation, instead, letting the President use his executive authority in the matter. Note that the only mention of basic pay in the 2015 NDAA is the freeze on general and flag officer pay raises. Also of note, is the fact that TRICARE is nowhere to be found in the text of the current mark up. This too could leave room for administrative changes to be made by the Pentagon (direct cuts are not likely to be in the DoD’s prevue). The absence of direction from Congress when it comes to pay, housing allowances. and compensation reductions, may limit the administration’s authority to make drastic cuts, but, it does leave a lot to be desired as far as protecting benefits goes. As we saw with last year’s budget, the lack of direct language enabled DoD to cap pay at 1 percent and make sweeping (albeit temporary) cuts to tuition assistance programs.
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