Forces in S. Korea could get pay boost
May 11, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Senate Armed Services Committee has added a provision to the 2004 defense budget that would give every servicemember stationed in South Korea an extra $100 a month, according to the version of the 2004 defense authorization bill released by the committee Friday.
The South Korea bonus is part of the committee’s “markup” of the Bush administration’s proposed defense budget, so named because each chamber of Congress has the opportunity to take a red pencil to such proposals and add, subtract or change any item in the document.
Unlike the SASC, whose members do budget markups behind closed doors, the House Armed Services Committee holds public hearings to discuss the defense budget. HASC members did not bring up an across-the-board South Korea bonus during their markup discussions this week, although there’s no way to know for sure whether the South Korea provision was included in the HASC markup until the document is released.
If the South Korea provision is not in the HASC bill, senior members of both committees will meet in conference later this summer to hash out their differences and come up with a single bill.
If the South Korea bonus survives Congress, it still must be signed into law by President Bush.
Congress gave the services discretion to create assignment incentive bonuses in the 2002 defense budget bill, but only the Navy has actually set aside money to create such a program, which is now in the works.
But the Senate’s proposal is the first time legislators have tried to tell Pentagon officials to pay members deployed to a specific location a special bonus, a senior defense official said Friday.
In other payroll issues, SASC bucked the Bush administration’s proposal to give military members targeted pay raises ranging from 2 percent for junior enlisted members to as high as 6.25 for midgrade and senior noncommissioned officers and warrant officers.
Instead, SASC has approved a 3.7 percent across-the-board pay increase for all military personnel in 2004, regardless of rank, with some midcareer members getting higher raises, up to 6.25 percent.
The House, meanwhile, approved the Bush pay plan, setting the two chambers up for yet another conference decision.
Like the House, the Senate committee approved making permanent two wartime pay increases that were enacted in the defense supplemental bill signed April 16: a $150-a-month raise in Family Separation Allowance and a $75-a-month jump in Imminent Danger Pay.