Dayton, Democrats Call for Pay Raise for Troops
2007 Bush budget requests the smallest military pay raise since 1994
U.S. Senator Mark Dayton today joined with several of his Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to the leaders of the Senate Budget Committee, urging them to include a larger pay increase for the Armed Forces when they consider President Bush's budget. The Committee will use the budget as a blueprint for a bill which they will draft and present to the Senate in the coming weeks.
"President Bush's proposed pay increase for the courageous men and women in our Armed Forces is unacceptably small," said Dayton. "It would be the lowest increase since 1994. Our brave troops, who are risking their lives around the world, deserve better from their Commander-in-Chief."
Pay, in conjunction with other factors, plays a significant role in the recruitment and retention of members of the Armed Forces. President Bush requested a 2.2% increase in military pay for fiscal year 2007, even though he had requested 3.1% for Fiscal Year 2006.
The full text of the Senators' letter is below:
February 16, 2006
The Honorable Judd Gregg The Honorable Kent Conrad
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on the Budget
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Gregg and Senator Conrad:
As you begin consideration of the President's FY 2007 budget request, we urge you to include a pay increase that meets the needs and reflects the sacrifice of America's military personnel and their families.
The President's budget request includes a 2.2% increase in military pay-the smallest increase since FY1994. Such a paltry increase neglects the value of their service and the very real challenges of recruiting and retaining an all volunteer military in time of war.
The men and women of the American military are doing everything we ask of them-and more. They are being deployed at historic rates, many serving on their second, third, and even fourth combat deployments. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they are working with local and coalition partners to increase security so that those nations might stand on their own, free of tyranny. They are fighting terrorists and working with partners to win the War on Terror. They are deterring aggression in key strategic areas. We have seen American forces render aid to innocent victims of natural disasters, both here in the United States and around the world. And we know they stand ready to defend this country, our allies, and our way of life on a moments notice.
Surely they deserve a raise of more than 2.2%.
Last year, the Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve all failed to reach their recruiting targets. The Army, in fact, fell 6,700 recruits short in 2005-its biggest shortfall since 1979. Individuals choose to serve for many reasons: patriotism, a sense of duty, a desire to defend their country and make the world a better place. But we also know that adequate pay is one of the requirements of maintaining a professional, all-volunteer military.
In recent years, Congress has relied on a formula to increase military pay by 0.5% above the Employment Cost Index (ECI). This year, the administration's request is only equal to the ECI. Congress must do better.
Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Barack Obama (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).