Military personnel to see pay rise 2.2 percent in 2007
WASHINGTON — Military personnel will see a 2.2 percent pay raise next year, their smallest pay increase in more than a decade, after Congress on Friday sent its final version of the 2007 defense budget to the president.
Earlier versions of the $448 billion appropriations bill in the House had supported a 2.7 percent pay raise for servicemembers starting next January. But later Senate versions supported the lower level, and the final bill provides only enough money for a 2.2 percent cost of living adjustment.
Congress approved $378 billion for general defense operations, including more than $1.9 billion for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, created to develop new ways to diffuse and avoid roadside bombs in Iraq. Another $1 billion would pay for new body armor and other protective gear.
President Bush had lobbied for only a 2.2 percent pay increase in his budget proposals. It’s the smallest pay raise for active-duty troops since 1994; last year, Congress approved a 3.1 percent increase.
The difference will mean about $6 less a month for the youngest enlisted troops and nearly $13 a month less for an E-5 with 10 years experience.
The defense bill doesn’t set pay increases for civilian defense employees, but in recent years the military’s increase has set the pace for those workers’ pay as well.
The budget includes $70 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The $378 billion for general operations, equipment and research is an increase of nearly $19 billion from fiscal 2006 but about $4 billion less than the president requested.
Lawmakers also set aside more than $17 billion for Army equipment and nearly $6 billion for Marine equipment which needs to be repaired or replaced due to its heavy use in the conflicts overseas. Another $2 billion would pay for 10 new C-17 cargo planes to help address airlift needs for operations in those countries.
The bill also includes language mandating a study into the military’s clean-up of depleted uranium munitions, and another looking at the department’s decision to field only 28 National Guard combat brigades after previously planning 36 brigades.
The appropriations bill sets the baseline defense spending for fiscal 2007, which begins Oct. 1. The 2007 Defense Authorization legislation, which deals more with policies and spending philosophy in the defense budget, is still pending before Congress.
The Senate approved the appropriations bill unanimously on Friday. Earlier in the week, the House moved the legislation by a 394-22 vote.
The president is expected to sign the bill into law Saturday.