Politics

House Adds Big Troop Pay Raise To Defense Bill Over Biden’s Objection

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


The House on Friday passed a massive defense spending bill that included several items and measures backed by Republicans, some over the objection of President Joe Biden and the White House.

“Congress’ annual defense policy bill passed the House on Friday after a week of voting on more than 300 amendments, during which conservatives scored several victories on diversity, critical race theory and gender surgeries,” Fox News reported. “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes funding for military priorities across the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, with that funding later coming in the form of a defense appropriations bill.”

But one provision, in particular, was passed over Biden’s objections: A 19.5 percent pay raise for junior enlisted troops.

The NDAA is typically a widely bipartisan effort, but the battle over cultural provisions alienated Democrats, prompting opposition from the White House regarding these and similar measures in the bill, Fox reported.

Republicans assert that undoing measures on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and other progressive issues will strengthen military readiness and tackle the recruitment crisis facing the U.S. military. Three amendments targeting DEI roles in the armed forces were passed this week. These include the elimination of the Chief Diversity Officer role, any DEI-related offices and their personnel, and the enforcement of a hiring freeze on any future such roles. Another approved amendment would ban the promotion of critical race theory and similar race-based theories within the military.

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Two more measures prohibit Pentagon-related health policies from funding gender transition surgeries and transgender-related medical care, while a third provision bars the Pentagon from funding any abortion-related services.

Fox added:

The underlying bill, which advanced in a 57 to 1 vote out of the House Armed Services Committee last month, looks to make significant improvements to service members’ quality of life. 

A cornerstone initiative of that is the pay raise for junior enlisted service members and a 4.5% increase for other military roles. 

“A very significant pay raise, particularly for our young enlisted, I think is really life-changing, and I hope will also be motivating for people to enlist and also to stay,” Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., a member of the Armed Services Committee and a veteran, told the outlet earlier this week.

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., another committee member and a retired general, stated that military families, especially in high-cost-of-living areas, had to rely on food banks to feed their families. “People working at fast-food restaurants are making more than our junior enlisted,” Bacon said.

Both lawmakers also took verbal swipes at Biden and his administration for opposing the pay raise for junior enlisted members.

“People working at fast-food restaurants are making more than our junior enlisted,” Bacon said.

Meanwhile, during his birthday rally in Florida, former President Trump promised to build a “great” Iron Dome anti-missile shield for the U.S., saying that it would be “made in America.”

“By next term, we will build a great Iron Dome over our country,” Trump said during his 78th birthday celebration at Club 47 in West Palm Beach on Friday evening. “We deserve a dome. We deserve it all, made state of the art.”

“It’s a missile defense shield, and it’ll all be made in America,” he said. “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Trump added that, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he wanted to build a similar system, “but at that time, we didn’t have the technology.” “We now have the technology,” Trump said.

Israel’s missile defense system, or Iron Dome, is largely funded by the United States, but it was developed in Israel with U.S. assistance. The system is capable of effectively intercepting and neutralizing short-range rockets and artillery attacks originating from a distance of up to 43 miles.

“Since its creation in 2011, the Iron Dome has rebuffed and destroyed rockets from Hamas militants, Palestinian forces and Iranian drones and missiles,” Fox reported.

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