Part of being a politician requires helping decide how much money to set aside to sustain and provide for members of the U.S. military. This process, which is reviewed annually, is lengthy and often quite partisan.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., sent out a tweet praising the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019. He said it "includes the largest pay raise in nearly 10 years and provides our service members with the resources, equipment and training they need."
We wanted to take a closer look and see if service members were getting everything that Blunt asserted that they would.
The goal of the act, as stated in its introduction, was to restore readiness and increase capability and capacity in a force that has been asked to do too much with too little for too long.
The bill, approved in August, proposed a military budget $639.1 billion with funds divided into areas including:
$17.7 billion to rehabilitate and replace worn out Army equipment.
$23.5 billion to sustain, repair and rebuild crumbling military buildings and other infrastructure.
$36.3 billion to "restore America’s strength at sea."
$40.8 billion "to overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air."
$69 billion to fund Overseas Contingency Operations.
Overseas Contingency Operations are defined as a separate pot of funding that is set aside and operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department. They are sometimes referred to as "war funds."
The other large component of the act was to provide a 2.6 percent pay raise for those currently serving. This also extended special pay and bonuses for those in high demand fields.
To compare the pay raise that service members could receive in 2019 to the ones they have received in the past decade, we reached out to Blunt’s team. It sent us records of the annual pay adjustments for those who have served dating back to 2007.
Fiscal year of 2010 was the last time a pay raise greater than 2.6 percent was awarded. From 2011 to 2016, the pay raise remained under 2 percent.
Mark Cancian, a Center for Strategic and International Studies senior advisor on the International Security Program, shared records of military and civilian pay increases, including estimates up to 2023. The information was published by the Department of Defense’s Comptroller in Table 5-12 of National Defense Budget Estimates for fiscal year 2019.
Experts we reached out to agreed that the first part of Blunt’s statement rang true. Although last year’s pay raise is just shy of 2.6 percent, the last pay raise higher that was higher was offered nine years ago.
Todd Harrison, the strategic center’s director of defense budget analysis, said that is is fair to say that the bill fully authorizes the level of total funding that the Department of Defense requested.
Blunt said that members of the military would receive their highest pay raise in nearly 10 years thanks to legislation signed in August. Military compensation records and experts in defense analysis and government spending fields verified that this was correct.
We rate this statement True.