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House, Senate at odds over 2014 military, civilian pay raise

Jul. 30, 2013 - 05:36PM   |  
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Congress is on a collision course over 2014 pay raises for service members and federal civilians.

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers support a 1.8 percent increase on Jan. 1 for active-duty and reserve troops, which would match last year’s average growth in private-sector wages. Defense civilians, whose pay has been frozen for three consecutive years, would get no increase in 2014.

But on Tuesday, the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee rejected the House plan. The panel’s version of the 2014 defense appropriations bill includes a 1 percent pay raise for military and civilian workers, effective Jan. 1.

Differences between the House and Senate plans will have to be reconciled before a final bill passes.

The White House and Defense Department are siding with the Senate. Defense and service officials are making an increasingly aggressive stand against a 1.8 percent pay raise, saying the slightly bigger increase would add $580 million to the defense budget in 2014 and $3.5 billion over five years. That money could be used instead for weapons modernization and other needs, officials have argued.

The White House opposes freezing federal civilian pay for a fourth year. The Defense Department’s cost for a civilian raise next year would be about $430 million, an expense that would eat up part of any savings realized from a lower military raise.

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