Ernst and Warren seek changes in military pay policies

WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican, has joined forces with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to sponsor legislation that addresses concerns about the pay for American soldiers.

“I am glad to partner with my colleague Senator Warren to ensure our troops are receiving the compensation they deserve for serving our great nation,” Ernst said during a conference call with Iowa reporters.

Full-time soldiers are to receive an annual pay raise based on what’s called the “Employment Cost Index,” but presidents may cite economic concerns or a national emergency and cancel those raises. President Obama used that authority to provide smaller-than-expected pay raises and President Trump has proposed doing the same thing, to set aside more money to buy weapons and other miltiary equipment.

“It is important that we are able to recruit service members by giving troops a payraise that matches the Employment Cost Index in the private sector,” Ernst said.

Ernst and her Massachusetts colleague also propose changes in the military’s internal pay structures.

“Except for seven senior enlisted positions, enlisted personnel do not receive a pay increase as their job responsibility levels grow,” Ernst said, “creating great discrepancies between service members with the same rank, with equivalent levels of responsibility.”

Ernst and Warren are both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their bill would allow a president to set aside scheduled pay increases in a “national emergency.” If the proposal doesn’t advance through the Senate as a stand-alone bill, it could be added to the budget bill for the military.

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