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August 18, 2003
Democrats Say Bush Should Extend Military Pay Raises
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.

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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 allowance.

"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."

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