Military pay increase will exceed private sector’s

By Tom Philpott

Active duty and reserve component members can bank on a 3.9 percent pay raise next January as Congress continues to close a perceived military “pay gap” that a Pentagon pay study says no longer exists.

The House Armed Services Committee on May 14 joined Senate colleagues in approving, for a 10th consecutive year, a military pay increase that will exceed private sector wage growth by a half of a percentage point.

Both the House and Senate panels also agreed to block the Bush administration, for a third straight year, from raising TRICARE fees for working-age retirees or pharmacy co-pays under TRICARE’s retail network.

Both panels also have directed the Department of Defense to lower premiums paid by drilling reservists and their families who enroll in the TRICARE Reserve Select program. TRS premiums by law are to be set only high enough to cover program costs. The Government Accountability Office recently found that Defense officials had set them too high.