House panel approves military pay raise
Lawmakers disregarded Defense Secretary Robert Gates's calls for fiscal restraint on Wednesday, approving a military pay raise higher than President Obama and the Pentagon requested.
The House Armed Services personnel subcommittee approved a 1.9 percent pay bump for uniformed military personnel, half of a percentage point higher than Obama's fiscal 2011 budget. The markup also increased hostile fire pay and family separation allowances.
"This raise will further reduce the gap between military and private-sector pay raises," said subcommittee chairman Susan Davis (D-Calif.).
But the raise is in direct disagreement with the wishes of Gates, who plans to push for at least $15 billion in cuts from the Pentagon's budget, mostly from contracts and administrative redundancies. He also called special attention to Pentagon personnel costs.
"Leaving aside the sacred obligation we have to America's wounded warriors, health-care costs are eating the Defense Department alive, rising from $19 billion a decade ago to roughly $50 billion -- about the entire foreign affairs and assistance budget of the State Department," Gates said Saturday.
Davis said she's open to working with Gates on his cost concerns but kept the proposed pay raise intact.
The military pay bump means civilian federal workers should anticipate a 1.9 percent raise. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) vowed last year to ensure pay parity for service members and civilian workers after the military earned a larger raise.
Wednesday's House markup did not include language repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays openly serving in the military. It's unclear whether the issue will be included in next week's full committee meeting, Davis said. Gates wants the Pentagon to complete a military-wide study of the review before Congress acts.
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| May 13, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Workplace Issues
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