House passes defense bill with biggest troop pay raise in years
WASHINGTON — The House on Friday passed an annual defense policy bill that includes the largest troop pay raise in six years and puts the brakes on an Army drawdown.
The vote means the $619 billion National Defense Authorization Act – along with the 2.1 percent raise and an order to keep 476,000 soldiers in the Army -- cleared its first legislative hurdle after being unveiled this week. Now, it is headed for a Senate vote next week and then must be signed by President Barack Obama.
The pay raise will kick in Jan. 1 if the bill is signed into law, despite an executive order by Obama in August to set raises at 1.6 percent in 2017 to save money. The Army had also recently announced a reduction in soldiers to cut costs amid tight defense budgets.
“It is time we give the troops and their families the pay raise they deserve,” said Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., a subcommittee chairman on the House Armed Services Committee.
The 34 opposing votes came mostly from Democrats.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, supported the bill but warned that the country spends more than the rest of the world on its military and will need to focus on domestic programs.
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