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Mideast edition, Friday, July 27, 2007

Plans for a 3.5 percent military pay raise in 2008 received another boost Wednesday when House and Senate lawmakers approved separate legislation to give troops bigger paychecks.

The Senate included the 3.5 percent increase as part of a bill designed to overhaul the military health care system.

Officials said they added it to the so-called Wounded Warrior Act, which includes provisions to simplify procedures and paperwork needed for veterans to receive treatment at military or veterans hospitals, to show the importance of better pay for servicemembers worldwide.

Meanwhile, members of the House Appropriations Committee set aside $2.2 billion to pay for the 3.5 percent increase in their 2008 defense appropriations bill.

The White House and Defense officials have publicly opposed the 3.5 percent raise, saying their proposed 3.0 percent raise is equal to the average anticipated civilian pay hike and therefore is sufficient.

But congressional analysts insist that military pay lags nearly 4 percent behind civilian pay, and the extra boost is needed to keep the services from falling behind the private sector.

None of the legislation would affect civilian defense employees’ pay, but last month the House approved a 3.5 percent pay increase for government workers as part of another 2008 budget bill.

Click here for a pay calculator.


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