Defense

Obama sets 1.6 percent pay raise for military

Afghanistan, Drawdown
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President Obama has approved plans to cap the military’s 2017 pay raise at 1.6 percent, a rate Republicans have blasted as insufficient.

In a brief letter to Congress on Wednesday, Obama said the cap was needed to maintain a “sustainable fiscal course.”

“I am strongly committed to supporting our uniformed service members, who have made such great contributions to our nation over more than a decade of war,” he wrote.

“As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, however, we must maintain efforts to keep our nation on a sustainable fiscal course,” he continued. “This effort requires tough choices, especially in light of budget constraints.”

Obama’s move has been expected since the administration released it 2017 budget proposal, which called for the 1.6 percent raise.

But some Republicans are hoping to override the president’s rate with this year’s defense policy and spending bills, though the fate of that effort is uncertain.

The House versions of bills would give troops a 2.1 percent pay raise, using a portion of the war fund to pay for the higher raise. But the Senate versions stick with the 1.6 percent raise.

The House and Senate are in negotiations now to reconcile their version of the defense policy bill, but it’s unclear which version’s pay raise will win out.

Further, the administration has threatened to veto the House version, in part for how it uses the war fund, and Obama would likely veto a final bill that does the same thing.

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