By early June 1999, the House was moving only a step behind the Senate in approving the most significant overhaul of military compensation in two decades. Not since the Reagan administration has a defense authorization bill contained as many initiatives to help attract and retain service people and improve their overall quality of life.
Certain to be enacted were extra increases in basic pay; improvements in future retirement benefits for much of the force; more and bigger retention bonuses to keep certain critical job skills filled; and special payments to roughly 20,000 severely disabled veterans who served full careers.
The fate of other initiatives would remain in doubt until Senate and House negotiators agreed on a single version of the $288.8 billion defense authorization bill.
Key proposals found in both bills—and therefore almost certain to become law included: