Lawmakers assuming key leadership roles in shaping military pay and benefits say they are open to "targeting" next January's pay raise, with perhaps bigger increases going to midgrade and senior enlisted, if the Bush administration signals that such a plan would help the services meet force retention goals.
Representative John McHugh (R-NY) and Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) are the new chairmen of the House and Senate armed services' subcommittees on military personnel. In separate interviews, both said they are open to making the next pay raise more effective by giving larger increases to the most underpaid ranks based on pay-level comparisons with the private sector.
Hutchinson said he also has a novel idea for extending higher education benefits to the families of members in critical job specialties. In addition, he wants to end the dollar-for-dollar reduction in retired pay that occurs when career military retirees begin to draw Veterans Administration compensation for service-related disabilities.