2016 pay and benefits forecast is cloudy

2016 pay and benefits forecast is cloudy

Lawmakers have been debating next year’s defense budget plans for months already, but the return of Congress to Capitol Hill this week marks the start of serious talks about next year’s defense authorization bill and how it might affect military personnel policies.

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to mark up its first draft of the annual legislation April 29, following a week of debates among subcommittee members. Proposals for policy changes and equipment plans will start being released later this week.

The moves are only the first stage of a long legislative process for the measure, which along with the appropriations process will set defense spending limits and priorities for fiscal 2016.

It also will signal whether any of the lofty military budget goals pushed by the White House and Pentagon — ending sequestration, reining in personnel costs, sidelining the A-10 — might actually happen.

Here’s a look at some of the military personnel items to watch for:

Compensation reform

House lawmakers aren’t expected to include any major initiatives from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission’s recent report to Congress in their early drafts of the defense authorization bill.

Since February, the House committee has been discussing those proposals, which include replacing the current military retirement system with a 401(k)-style plan, an overhaul of the military health system and more.

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