DOD: Defense bill delay will not stop combat pay

American service members deployed to war zones around the world will not lose their combat pay, should lawmakers fail to pass a defense spending legislation this year. 

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Defense Department spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday that combat and hazard pay for U.S. forces overseas will continue with or without a Pentagon budget bill. 

Furor on Capitol Hill over possible pay cuts for front-line troops was prompted by a letter from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey to congressional leaders earlier this month. 

In the Dec. 9 missive, Dempsey noted that "military special pays and bonuses" would cease by the end of the year if Congress did not approve a final version of the department's fiscal 2014 spending package. 

However, Warren told reporters at the Pentagon that combat and hazard pay did not fall under that rubric laid out by Dempsey to lawmakers and was not tied to the passage of the FY14 budget. 

House and Senate defense lawmakers are looking to push through a compromise version of the spending plan unveiled on Monday. 

The House could vote on the Defense authorization bill on Thursday under a legislative procedure to quickly move non-controversial bills, according to multiple House aides.

The vote on the Defense bill would occur under a suspension process, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage.

The timing for the vote still remains “very fluid,” however, and it has not been finalized, according to the aides. A vote on the $607 billion Pentagon policy bill could slip to Friday.

On the Senate side, defense legislators there are looking to head off Republican opposition to bypassing amendments to the Pentagon budget plan and fast-track the legislation to President Obama's desk by the end of the year.