Senate endorses raise for military

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

An endorsement from a Senate panel Tuesday could mean a 3.5 percent pay raise for military members and civilian Department of Defense employees.

The pay raise exceeds the 3 percent recommended by President Bush.

“It’s a very good pay raise considering the circumstances and what’s happening right now,” military spouse Denise Stewart said. “With Iraq and the expense, we’re supporting two wars right now.”

“I do believe it’s fair,” the 12-year veteran Air Force wife said.

Christine Kallenbache, whose husband is a production superintendent at Cannon Air Force Base, agreed.

“With everything going on, it’s kind of nice that Congress is looking out for us,” she said, explaining the medical, housing and other benefits provided through military service are valuable.

An accountant with the city, Kallenbache said her husband is a month from retirement after 21 years of service.

Her family is adjusting to the idea of civilian life complete with mortgage payments and other things they didn’t have to worry about during her husband’s active duty service.

The spending bill, similar to one passed by the House, must go to the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor before being reconciled with the House version. That is unlikely to happen by Oct. 1, lawmakers said, and a stopgap spending measure will likely be needed to keep the military funded.

Overall, The Senate defense appropriations subcommittee approved $459.6 billion in spending for fiscal 2008, about $3.5 billion less than the White House requested. Among the programs trimmed, chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said in Friday’s 11-minute meeting, were the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program, which is behind schedule, and the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, whose costs have exceeded projections.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

At a glance

Minimum military pay raises over the years:

2008 (proposed) — 3.5 percent

2007 — 2.2 percent

2006 — 3.1 percent

2005 — 3.5 percent

2004 — 3.7 percent

2003 — 4.1 percent

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