Democrats in Congress are accusing the Bush administration of cutting the compensation
of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but administration officials rebutted
the argument by saying that while certain raises in bonuses would not be extended,
overall compensation would not be reduced, the Boston Globe reports.
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle helped fuel the flap over military
pay. The newspaper had reported that nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
would lose a $75 monthly increase in "imminent danger" pay and a $150
raise in their "family separation allowance," which are scheduled
to expire at the end of September.
"If it's a cruel game of Washington budgeting, then it's completely inappropriate
and an abuse of our soldiers, and if it's not a cruel game of Washington budgeting
and it's serious, it's an even worse abuse of our soldiers," says Senator
John Kerry, who served in the Vietnam War in the Navy.
The House and Senate have proposed bills to extend the raises, but the Pentagon
has opposed both measures, according to the Boston Globe. The Pentagon contends
soldiers' overall compensation will not drop because other bonuses will make
up for the absence of raises in the imminent danger pay and family separation
"I would just like to very quickly put to rest what I understand has been
a burgeoning rumor that somehow we are going to reduce compensation for those
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," says David Chu, the Defense Department's
personnel chief. "That is not true. We are not going to reduce that compensation."
Democrats say the soldiers deserve the extension of raises to their compensation.
"Because of President Bush's budget busting tax cuts for the wealthy,
we have no money left to fund important priorities like giving our servicemen
and women a much deserved pay raise," says Representative Richard A. Gephardt,
D-Mo. "President Bush should abandon these senseless tax cuts and give
our troops the pay increase they deserve."