Higher Pay Raise OK, But Must Be Paid for, Cohen Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 1999 "Congress may want to give [the military] a higher pay raise, and that's fine provided Congress pays for it," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said Feb. 19 while in Alaska.
The Senate recently passed a bill calling for a 4.8 percent pay raise in fiscal 2000. The president's fiscal 2000 budget request calls for a 4.4 percent pay raise.
"We are not going to say to the Senate, 'We don't need more money for pay,'" Cohen said at a news conference at Elmendorf Air Force Base. "But we want Congress to give us the money to fully fund it." He said his estimates are that a 4.8 percent raise would add $7 billion to $10 billion to the Future Years Defense Plan.
If the extra billions are not added in the budget process, DoD must shift them from other areas. "We will have to take the money from operations and maintenance accounts, other readiness accounts and modernization," he said.
He said he has been working with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to fund any pay raise through the normal authorization and appropriation processes.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said reports that Cohen does not favor the higher pay raise are untrue. "He has said time and again he is in favor of paying the men and women in the military more," Bacon said. "But he wants to make sure that any increase is paid for within the budget."