WASHINGTON — Bad news for troops hoping for a last-minute pay bump from the Senate’s defense budget planners: On Friday, leaders there backed a 1.6 percent pay increase for troops starting in January, the same slim plan already outlined by the House and president.
The inclusion of that mark in both the House and Senate drafts of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill means that it’s almost certain that it will end up in the final measure. The pay raise is slightly above this year’s 1.4 percent boost but roughly half of the typical increases servicemembers received during the last decade.
The smaller pay bumps drew criticism from some troops last year, but White House officials have noted that the figure is tied to the anticipated raise in civilian wages for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s also more than the troops’ civilian co-workers will see, since federal employees are still under a pay freeze.
In a statement, Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the draft budget bill supports troops and their families while finding savings of more than $6 billion over the White House’s budget proposals. The measure also includes a host of family program spending and new military construction projects, but will also allow increases in Tricare fees for certain working-age military retirees.
If approved, the 1.6 pay increase will mean about $40 more a month for an E-4 with six years service and about $90 for an O-4 with six years.