There have been several attempts to raise the military pay rate. On two separate occasions in 2007 Congress attempted to raise the military pay scale. On one occasion it did not make it through the complete Congressional process. The other time President Bush vetoed it on December 28th, 2007. President Bush felt that there were parts of the attached bill that would have frozen billions in funds that were supporting the Iraqi rebuilding effort. The total amount that President Bush felt was threatened amounted to several billion dollars that were held in U.S. Banks for the Iraqi reconstruction effort.
Congress passed the 2008 Defense Authorization bill in recent weeks and President Bush signed it into law on Monday. It activates a bigger pay raise than previously submitted and also allows more than two dozen separate pay bonuses that have been awaiting funding. This will directly affect troops who have had bonuses earned or awarded, but have been waiting to actually receive the bonus money.
The final version of the authorization bill calls for a three point five percent across the board military pay increase. This is one half percent more than what was proposed for the first of 2008, and amounts to about thirteen dollars a month for an enlisted E-5 pay grade with ten years service or seniority. The bill, which was signed into law by President Bush, was a revised version of the bill that was vetoed in December.
The questionable language and parts that caused the objections by the President were removed, and the new measure allowed backdating to the beginning of 2008, including bonuses. This means that both pay and bonuses are to be paid retroactively to January 1st, 2008. Despite the retroactive provision, the Servicemembers will not see this money until the end of February, perhaps later as it makes its way through the system
Twenty-six different types of bonuses have been delayed by the lack of an authorization bill. The Army’s enlistment referral bonus of two thousand dollars, as well as a large number of special pay and incentive bonuses for health and medical professionals have been delayed. The new bill totals nearly seven hundred billion dollars, and falls just short at six hundred ninety six billion. It allows troops to bring forward from one year to the next up to seventy five days of leave, and allows certain groups of deployed soldiers to sell back to the government up to thirty days of un used leave.
The new authorization bill also makes the Chief of the National Guard a Four star General, and has other family readiness counsel and health provisions.