Military to see raises, housing allowance bump if NDAA passes as written
WASHINGTON — The National Defense Spending Proposal is out, and for Ellsworth Air Force Base, this means bumps in pay for military members and another look ahead to the B-21 — all while inflation rears its ugly head.
Earlier this week, in a 23-3 vote, the Senate Armed Services Committee moved forward with the $847 billion bill for the Fiscal Year of 2023. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) itself hasn’t been passed yet, but the House version has. South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds says he hopes the Senate version will be on the floor by the beginning of October.
“This is what actually authorizes the funding for military expenses for our men and women in uniform for the coming year,” Sen. Rounds said.
AUTHORIZATION VS. APPROPRIATION
Authorization and appropriation are two different things when it comes to government spending. Authorization is Congress allowing money to be spent on something, while appropriation actually makes the funding available — and a specific amount — for a given fiscal year.
In that proposal, there is a 4.6% pay bump for military service members and Department of Defense civilian workers. The Basic Needs Allowance would see increased eligibility and allowance size, from 130% of the federal poverty line to 150%.
Sen. Rounds adds that the housing allowance for airmen and their families will see a match to the rise in inflation. The Secretary of Defense would be able to authorize an adjustment in the basic allowance for housing rate (BAH) for an area if the actual cost of housing different by more than 20% from the current BAH rate.
“Most people up here don’t believe that the administration was recognizing how bad inflation was going to get, and so the Biden Administration did not include money for inflation,” Rounds said. “But we did.”
The impacts of inflation are already being seen on the B-21 bomber program, though Rounds says the nuclear-capable bomber is still on time and on budget, with a formal roll out scheduled for later this year.
“Rather than working their way through and literally doing a first flight, doing the rollout and then going back in and working out a lot of the bugs, they’ve decided to work through a lot of those bugs on the first few copies,” Rounds added.
Also included in the proposal was $15 million in funding for schools affected by base changes, such as the influx of families expected as the B-21 program lands at Ellsworth.