Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) are pushing a plan to increase military pay rates, just as the Pentagon is weighing possible cuts to housing, health care and education benefits for U.S. service members.
The version of the Pentagon's FY '14 budget blueprint submitted to Congress in Feburary included a 1 percent increase for military pay.
However, the Rubio-Tester plan bumps that rate up from the White House-proposed 1 percent to 1.8, which brings those pay rates up to par with the Economic Cost Index, according to a statement from Rubio's office.
The White House defended its proposed 1 percent pay increase in its statement of administration policy on the pending defense authorization bill, released Monday night.
Passing this amendment will have a direct positive impact on our military volunteers and their families,” The Florida Republican said in the statement, issued Monday.
"As we continue to deploy troops all around the world to fight terrorism, respond to disasters and defend our interests, we have a duty to take care of them and their families," Rubio added.
But the timing of the amendment comes as Defense Department officials are considering considerable reductions to a wide range of miltary benefits available to U.S. service members.
Sizable funding cuts to military base housing allowances, tuition assistance vehicles like the G.I. Bill and healthcare benefits are all on the table, as the Pentagon builds its FY '15 budget plan.
The cuts are designed to partially offset the effects of the massive, across-the-board defense budget cuts under the Obama administration's sequestration plan.
Under sequestration, the Pentagon is staring down $500 billion in mandatory spending cuts. The cuts began in March and would reduce Pentagon spending by $52 billion next year.
The department's FY' 15 budget plan will be the Pentagon's first spending blueprint with sequestration cuts factored in.
That plan will coincide with the department's Quadrennial Defense Review, which this year will provide the overarching strategy for the U.S. military after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren declined to comment on the specifics on the proposed reductions, first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The plan, he noted is still being reviewed by department leadership and will be briefed to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Congress once complete, he added.
But that has not stopped lawmakers from slamming the department's plans to reduce military benefits.
"It's outrageous for the Department of Defense to cut pay and benefits for our troops when what they need to do is to trim their bloated bureaucracy," Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said in a statement Monday.
"So long as the Pentagon insists on doing business as usual they will be forced into solutions that penalize our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who can least afford this," he added.