ARLINGTON, Va. — On the first day of the new fiscal year, President Bush signed into law the Defense Appropriations Act, a bill that will give the Pentagon $368 billion for next year.

The bill represents an increase of about 1 percent for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

However, it is not the final defense spending bill; Congress still is haggling over particulars in the Defense Authorization Bill.

The act allocates money to give servicemembers an average 4.l percent pay boost, which would kick in Jan. 1, and civilian federal employees 3.7 percent.

The $368 billion act does not include funding to sustain operations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Appropriations, which becomes an act versus a bill once the president signs it, tells the Pentagon how much money it can spend, while the Authorization bill does as its name states, gives the department the authority.

Typically, details of how the Pentagon’s money is to be spent is included in the Authorization Act.

The bill allocates $83 billion for active-duty personnel spending, and $15.1 billion for Reserve and Guard.

The bill also includes a boost in funding for the Pentagon’s budget for Basic Allowance for Housing, an effort to reduce servicemembers’ out-of-pocket expenses. The amount will decrease a GI’s monthly housing expenses, on average 7.5 percent in fiscal 2003, to 3.5 percent in fiscal 2004. The Pentagon is aiming to have that expense dwindle to zero by fiscal 2005.

It also includes $128 million for the continuation of increased rates for Imminent Danger Pay and Family Separation Allowances.

In April, Congress approved an increase of $150 a month for those collecting family separation allowance and $75 a month in imminent danger pay; making those amounts retroactive to October, and having the increases expire Sept. 30. The imminent danger pay was raised from $150 a month; and family separation allowance from $100 to $250 a month.

However, that extra money is probably not enough to sustain the increased amount for an entire fiscal year, said John Scofield, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

A specific timetable deliberately was not included in the appropriations bill because pay and benefit details still are being hashed out on the Authorization Act and in the $87 billion supplemental request before Congress, he said.

The Senate approved the bill in a 95-0 vote Sept. 25, and the House of Representatives gave its stamp of approval Sept. 24 by a 407 to 15 margin.

According to The Associated Press, the bill also funds 22 F-22 stealth fighters, provides about $9 billion in missile defense programs, up $1.4 billion from fiscal 2003, and $11.5 billion for shipbuilding, up $2.4 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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