The outgoing U.S. Senate in one of its final acts quietly approved a proposed National Defense Authorization Act measure Tuesday, which included provisions that slash the anticipated pay raises of service members almost in half, and cuts housing and medical benefits.
“The measure includes authorization for $521 billion in base military spending and nearly $64 billion more in overseas contingency funds, including about $5 billion for the current fight in Iraq and Syria,” Military Times reported, but the devil is in the details. According to the Times:
The lower pay raise will be the most obvious hit for troops, who would be in line for a 1.8 percent raise based on anticipated private-sector wage growth (but will see a one percent pay hike instead).
In addition, lawmakers approved trimming back the housing allowances paid to troops who live off base. The Pentagon initially sought to reduce the tax-free housing benefit by 5 percent by reducing the 100 percent of troops’ estimated housing costs that are covered now down to an average of 95 percent — in effect making troops pay 5 percent of their housing with out-of-pocket cash.
The pharmacy co-pay increases also reflect just a one-year advance on defense leaders’ multiyear plan for more significant co-pay hikes. Under the deal, all prescriptions except mail-order generic drugs would see a $3 increase starting in January.
The conclusion is inescapable. While the Obama administration wastes hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on green energy programs both here and abroad, it’s financing its foray into Syria and Iraq on the backs of its service members.
Radio talk host Hugh Hewitt blasted U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), for agreeing to the cut on his show Tuesday. Inhofe is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
But Senator, you could always restore that in the new year, and I have to give voice to the people who have been writing me all day. They are pissed. And they are so upset that Republicans have agreed to this in order just to keep the record going. They really, I hope some Republican stands up and filibusters it. Maybe it will be you, because these men and women —
I just finished reading Toby Harnden’s book. He’s going to be on today. They’re struggling with PTSD, they’re struggling with multiple deployments. They’ve got no money, no disposable income, and basically, what the lame duck Congress is doing is paying for the war in Iraq and Syria by cutting active duty servicemen’s benefits.
Hewitt hammered at not only Inhofe but all GOP Senate members for allowing the cuts to go through without a fight. Inhofe countered by stating that the one percent below inflation rate for housing allowances “started out being 7%.”
Listen to the exchange, via the High Hewitt Show.