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Biden ‘strongly opposes’ major troop pay raise in 2025 defense bill

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol after their meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
June 14, 2024

President Joe Biden is arguing against a major pay raise for U.S. military service members that is laid out in a House draft of the 2025 national defense budget, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The House version of the bill includes an across-the-board 4.5 percent pay raise for all U.S. military service members, with an additional 15 percent targeted pay raise for junior enlisted troops, bringing their overall compensation increase to about 19.5 percent under the 2025 budget. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated this pay boost would cost about $24.4 billion over five years.

However, the White House indicated on Tuesday, in a statement of administration policy, that Biden is not on board with that big of a pay boost for the junior troops.

“The Administration is strongly committed to taking care of our Servicemembers and their families, and appreciates the [House Armed Service Committee’s] concern for the needs of the most junior enlisted members, but strongly opposes making a significant, permanent change to the basic pay schedule before the completion of the Fourteenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC),” the White House statement reads.

The White House went on to argue that Biden’s plan would entail the junior troops getting a 15 percent pay boost in three years but said pushing for one now could lead to pay compression for some parts of the military basic pay table. The White House estimated that the pay raise plan for junior troops included the House’s NDAA draft would cost $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2025 and another through fiscal year 2029.

As noted by The Daily Caller, the pay increases for junior U.S. troops amount to about one-seventh of the $175 billion the Biden administration has spent for Ukraine-related aid since 2022 to assist in its war with Russia.

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“When accounting for inflation, the average American makes less today than when Joe Biden took office. The White House wants to block Republicans from giving our troops the raise they need to make ends meet in the Biden economy,” Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, a HASC member, told The Daily Caller. “Meanwhile, they’ve sent the Ukrainian government $11,500 per Ukrainian household. It’s shameful.”

Banks voted against $61 billion in new Ukraine-related aid in April.

Continued aid for Ukraine has proved a divisive topic among Republicans. At the same time, House Republicans on both sides of the issue have criticized Biden for opposing more money for junior enlisted U.S. troops.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who voted in favor of the $61 billion in new Ukraine aid, said a bipartisan panel on his committee came to the decision to provide the 15 percent targeted pay boost for junior enlisted troops.

“Too many military families are relying on food banks, SNAP, and WIC in order to put food on the table,” Rogers said. “Republicans and Democrats on our committee agreed this is unacceptable.”