Military pay overhaul could mean huge pay boosts for enlisted troops

This is a developing story, and will be updated.

Junior enlisted troops could see their monthly pay boosted by up to 35% next year under a massive rewrite of the military’s pay tables proposed under a House Republican defense appropriations plan released Wednesday.

The move would guarantee that even the lowest-ranking service members would make at least $31,000 annually in base pay — roughly equivalent to a $15-an-hour wage. Troops also receive other financial compensation in the form of housing stipends, free health care coverage and food stipends.

The proposal — which still has to survive numerous rounds of negotiations on Capitol Hill — comes in direct response to concerns that thousands of military families are living at or below the federal poverty line, struggling to keep up with rising inflation costs.

But other junior enlisted troops would benefit from the plan as well. Most troops ranked E-5 and below would see boosts under the budget plan. An E-3 with three years service would see his or her annual salary jump from just under $31,000 to more than $35,000 under the plan. An E-4 with six years in service would see annual pay go from about $36,500 to $38,500.

Those pay boosts are separate from a proposed 5.2% pay raise for troops starting next January, meaning that the affected enlisted troops would see an even bigger increase in their take home pay.

But the costs of the plan are unclear. Senate Democrats and White House officials have not indicated whether they will go along with the proposal, or if the money needed to pay for it may cut into other federal programming priorities.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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