Troops will still get a pay raise if Trump vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act

Trump's veto threats have cause confusion about whether troops will still get a pay raise in January.
Jeff Schogol Avatar

U.S. troops will continue to receive their base pay and their next 3% pay raise will still take effect in January if President Donald Trump vetoes the Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, congressional aides told Task & Purpose.

However, the defense policy bill also authorizes reenlistment bonuses, hazardous duty pay, and other special pays, the aides said on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. This year’s National Defense Authorization Act would raise hazardous duty pay from $250 to $275 per month.

If Trump vetoes the bill, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is prepared to introduce separate legislation to ensure that troops get all special pays and bonuses, said a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.

Congress could vote next week on the annual defense policy bill, which includes a provision that would create a commission to change the names of all military installations, ships, streets, and other Defense Department assets that honor Confederate leaders.

Trump has said his administration will never allow 10 Army bases named for Confederate officers to be renamed, even though Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has indicated he is open to doing just that.

More recently, Trump has vowed to veto the National Defense Authorization Act unless Congress also repeals a federal law that protects tech companies from being sued for the content that users post. The law is known as Section 230.

“Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator @JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill,” Trump tweeted close to midnight on Thursday. ”So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!”

Trump’s tweets have caused some confusion about whether troops’ pay would be protected if the president carries through with his repeated threats to reject the defense policy bill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has twice tweeted that troops would not get a pay raise if Trump vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act.

“REMEMBER: Donald Trump is trying to cover up the real reason he wants to veto a pay raise for our troops,” Schumer tweeted on Thursday. “He wants to defend confederate traitors by stopping Congress from renaming military bases.”

When asked about Schumer’s tweets, a spokesperson for the senator told Task & Purpose that the National Defense Authorization Act includes a pay raise, so if Trump vetoes it he would be hurting service members and weakening national security.

Army, Maj. César Santiago, a Defense Department spokesman, said that troops will automatically get a 3% pay raise, which is based on the Employment Cost Index, starting on Jan. 1 unless Congress and the president change the size of the raise.

“Therefore, if the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 is not enacted prior to January 1, 2021, the rates of military basic pay will still automatically increase by 3.0 percent,” Santiago told Task & Purpose.