Military troops could see a 3% pay raise as soon as January 2021, according to Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-TX, the top GOP member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Top Armed Services Republican Promises 3% Raise in 2021
This pay raise was submitted in February 2020 as part of President Donald Trump’s proposed 2021 budget which recommends $741 billion in overall defense spending. Thornberry expects that this portion of the budget proposal will be adopted by Congress.
“People are our number one priority. And that’s a way to show our people we value them,” Thornberry said. “So I would expect the (White House’s) requested pay raise to be included next year.”
If adopted, this would be the second consecutive year that troops would receive a 3% or higher raise. In 2020, troops saw a 3.1% raise.
Should Congress adopt this portion of Trump’s budget, troops could see $800 or more in their annual salaries in 2021, according to projections from Military Times.
Based on these calculations, junior enlisted troops would receive $860 more per year. Senior enlisted and junior officers would receive at least $1500 more in their annual salary. Mid-grade and senior officers would receive $2500 or more. For example, a service member with 12 years of service and a rank of O-4 would receive $2800 more in 2021.
Aim to Retain Troops, Match Civilian Pay
Thornberry is confident that this proposed pay raise will pass. He is committed to retaining troops by making military careers more lucrative.
“We want to continue to attract and retain the very best people we can,” he explained. “Nobody does it for the money, but it is at least a factor in families deciding whether they want to join or stay in the military.”
In the past, defense leaders have strayed from the federal pay calculations, a formula designed to help match military pay to civilian counterparts, to allocate more funds to readiness and modernization efforts. However, Congress has opted to stick to the pay increases in recent years.
This year, Thornberry is concerned that troop raises and other military spending might be targeted for cuts due to the pandemic response spending. Current House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-WA, has already gone on the record, stating that he does not support additional defense spending if the funds could be better used in public health initiatives or recovery programs.
Troops Slated for Raise, Other Programs Suffer Deep Cuts
Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled in early February, prior the the pandemic crisis and the recent Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the country. Titled “A Budget for America’s Future,” the plan outlines several major areas of change.
The EPA’s budget, under this plan, would call for the elimination of 50 “wasteful” programs and $500 million in research funding. The VA would be 14% higher than 2020 budget, with $105 billion in funding allocated for 2021 and $94.2 billion in immediate allocations for future programs.
Also in this budget, Trump calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both major funders of PBS and NPR as well as other programs around the country. Trump also calls for an end to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which allows college loans to be forgiven when an individual has spent a period of time working for a public service agency while also making regular payments toward their loans.