A 2.4 percent pay raise for the military has been backed by negotiators from the Senate and House for fiscal 2018. This is expected to boost the end strength of over 20,000 troops, and fund weapon systems ranging from ground vehicles to ships to aircraft. The pay raise proposed would approximately equal the private sectors wage growth, and the biggest the military has seen since 2010.
The proposal by the Senate to reduce the money received by dual military couples with kids has been scrapped. Married members of the military currently receive their own allotment for housing. For couples with children, one can collect the rate for dependents or the BAH. The other receives the rate for no dependents. The proposal from the Senate wants both spouses to receive rates for no dependents. This would have decreased affected couples approximately $100 to $600 every month. The negotiated bill allows the spouse with the higher ranking to receive the rate for dependents.
The proposed increase for the military encompasses the end strength for 20,300 individuals. This includes 1,400 of the National Guard, 16,600 of the individuals on active duty, and 2,300 of the Reserves. According to the figures of the Defense Department, this would increase the end strength of the component from roughly 1.34 million to approximately 1.36 million. The end strength of the Senate and House would include 500 Guard, 7,500 active duty and 500 Reserves regarding the army, 1,000 reserves and 4,000 active duty for the Navy, 1,000 active duty regarding the Marines, and 800 reserves, 900 guards and 4,100 active duty for the Air Force.
The proposed defense budget is expected to run $699.6 billion for fiscal 2018. This includes the war budget for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and additional locations as a part of the Overseas Contingency Operations. This is a significant increase over the request from Trump for OCO funding of $65 billion and a base of $603 billion. The proposed increase requires 60 Senate votes and funding for 24 F/A-18 Super Hornet jets and 90 F-35 Joint Strikes.
The proposed budget for the defense has been approved by the conference committee. It is now headed to the Senate and House floors for a vote. It is possible a vote in the lower chamber will arrive as quickly as the beginning of next week. Congress will then determine how the budget will be funded and must work against the Continuing Resolution set to expire on December 8th.