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House and Senate weigh larger raises for young troops next year

Renna Hall dormitories are being renovated at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
Department of Defense
Renna Hall dormitories are being renovated at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

Both the House and Senate versions of the budgets include additional raises for younger troops.

The House passed a version this week with a 19.5 percent increase for lower enlisted, many of whom live below the federal poverty line and struggle with debt. The Senate version coming out of committee includes an extra 5.5 percent increase, which is 1 percent above what other troops would receive.

“It’s a robust pay increase, especially for those at the lower level,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA.

The Senate’s version of the Military Construction Budget also includes several projects designed to make life easier for younger families, he said.

“Salaries are one way to make quality of life better for people, but also things like better housing conditions and availability of affordable childcare,” Kaine said. “It's another way, you know, we want to send the signal that we really value the service to these folks.”

The Senate includes new dormitories at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and expanded child care centers at Joint Base Little Creek-Fort Story and Naval Air Station Oceana. There is also money to revamp the barracks at Naval Air Station Oceana.

The White House has set up a military compensation review, which will look at the pay of all members of the military, including the most junior sailors and soldiers. The group is not scheduled to make its finding public until at least the end of the year.

The House version of the defense bill also includes several culture war issues, including ending the policy to allow troops extra time and leave to travel out of state to seek abortion care. The Senate is expected to vote on the full budget in July before working on compromise.

Steve joined WHRO in 2023 to cover military and veterans. Steve has extensive experience covering the military and working in public media, most recently at KPBS in San Diego, WYIN in Gary, Indiana and WBEZ in Chicago. In the early 2000s, he embedded with members of the Indiana National Guard in Kuwait and Iraq. Steve reports for NPR’s American Homefront Project, a national public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Steve is also on the board of Military Reporters & Editors.

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