Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, sent a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee leadership requesting that the 5.2% pay increase for service members in President Biden’s budget be maintained in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act, despite the fiscal restraints imposed by the just-passed Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. The debt ceiling bill, which was necessary to avoid America’s first-ever default on its debt, imposed strict caps on the defense budget and may lead to real-dollar cuts across the department.
The letter notes that our armed services are facing a recruiting crisis; that approximately a quarter of service members face food insecurity; and that spouses face challenges with unemployment and underemployment. Given these challenges, it is important to ensure pay and benefits remain competitive even in the face of budget caps.
Read a full copy of the letter here and below:
Dear Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker:
Over the weekend, President Biden and Speaker McCarthy reached a deal to avoid default on the U.S.’ debt, agreeing to total defense spending in accordance with the President’s budget request. This limit on the defense budget may result in SASC cutting more items in the President’s budget request than in previous years in order to add Congressional priorities. One of the features of the President’s request is a 5.2% pay increase for service members. I am writing to ask that, despite the fiscal restraints imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, this pay increase be included in the chairman’s mark of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024.
As you know, people are the armed services’ greatest asset. As you also know, we are facing a recruiting crisis, making retention of our service members’ expertise and experience more important than ever. Meanwhile, twenty-four percent of service members face food insecurity, and chronic unemployment and underemployment of military spouses compounds the financial difficulties service members and their families face. We cannot afford to make budgetary trade-offs that negatively impact those in uniform.
Thank you for your consideration.
United States Senator