Compromise OKs Bigger Raise, More Troops

Compromise OKs Bigger Raise, More Troops

Photo by: U.S. Army

Congressional negotiators have agreed to provide a bigger military raise in January and boost the size of the Army by 8,500 soldiers.

They just haven’t figure out how to pay for everything. House and Senate negotiators working on the 2018 defense policy bill are prepared to authorize about $700 billion in spending for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. This is about $26 billion more than the Trump administration requested, but it is also about $40 billion more than was set aside for defense in the 2018 budget resolution passed by the House and Senate.

Something has to budge, with a decision on funding expected by the Dec. 8 expiration of the current temporary appropriations bill.

The policy-setting National Defense Authorization Act worked out by members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees provides a 2.4 percent increase in basic pay and drill pay effective Jan. 1. The amount matches last year’s average increase in private-sector wages but is three-tenths of a percentage point more than the Trump administration wanted.

The compromise includes a 7,500 increase in Regular Army troop levels and an increase of 500 soldiers each in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. The Trump administration had not asked for any increase in 2018. The House of Representatives had approved a much larger increase in July when it passed its initial version of the bill. It totaled 17,000, with 10,000 for the Regular Army, 4,000 for the Army National Guard and 3,000 for the Army Reserve.